Sailing Brady calls for a cup revamp

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reports from Cowes

Proposals that would radically change the structure of the Champagne Mumm Admiral's Cup have been put forward by Jim Brady, the skipper of one of the United States boats here, and Jean-Rene Bannwart, the chairman of the Corum watch company which used to sponsor the French team, and now has a boat sailing for Hong Kong.

Brady would like to see only the bigger boats in the three-strog teams sailing the 605-mile Fastnet Race, with the smaller 36s peeling off to finish at Plymouth. While the Fastnet continued, they would then run a further two days of inshore racing in Plymouth Sound. This would meet the requirements of the trust deed covering the staging of the Admiral's Cup.

"Only a few people want to continue with the offshore side of the event, so this would appeal to most of the competitors. It would also bring a major attraction to Plymouth," Brady, who was Dennis Conner's navigator in this year's America's Cup, said.

There are possibilities of also making the big boat a one-design class, or even of having two Mumm 36s and a big boat. Brady would also like to see Mumm 36 costs contained by limiting the budgets, especially for sails.

Britain's campaigners, already weary after a humiliating start, and still with two-thirds of the event to race, go into battle in Christchurch Bay today in an attempt to salvage some pride. Lying in last place, eighth of the eight teams, it will take a massive determination and deep reserves of concentration, to succeed. It is not, though, completely impossible.

Not, realistically, to win, not even to be in the top three, where even the holders, Germany, may have to settle for the fact that this 20th staging of the event is between the other founding country and current leader, the United States, and Italy.

Except, of course, that there is always the chance of the unexpected in yacht racing. In 1993 Italy were leading only to lose their big boat, Mandrake, after a collision, and then their two-tonner Larouge in a dismasting in the Fastnet.

Britain's Mumm 36, Group 4, has won a race, but has also picked up a seventh and an eighth out of eight. That they should have spent so much time and a more than adequate budget in building up for this event for nearly a year makes the lack of a kedge-anchor man to hold them when needed in the Channel Race look a little careless.

The crew work and talent on the mid-size Group 4 Astro seems to deserve a better record than it has achieved, but the form book would always have the Italian, American, German yachts, and the South African boat which was recruited only at the last minute, in the top slots.

The Italian 40 BravaQ8 is so far unbeaten, but yesterday one of the leading Italian commentators was ready to bet against that continuing. "The statistics tell me she must lose," he said.

Meanwhile, in an extraordinary display of forgiveness, Alan Green, the director of racing for the Royal Ocean Racing Club, yesterday issued amended results for the weekend Channel Race which made the American maxi Boomerang the winner of the Channel Handicap prize despite having used her engine when aground on the notorious Shingles Bank. No penalty was applied.

Further up the Solent all racing in Skandia Life Cowes Week was abandoned yesterday as, for the second day in succession, the sunshine totally outgunned the wind until after the races were abandoned, when a pleasant breeze filled in.

CHAMPAGNE MUMM ADMIRAL'S CUP: Overall standings: 1 United States 29.5pts; 2 Italy 36.375; 3 Scandinavia 45.75; 4 Germany 50.25; 5 Ireland 77; 6 South Africa 79.5; 7 Hong Kong 80; 8 Great Britain 85.25.