Sailing: British hopes raised by trio

THE CHERNIKEEFF team kept British hopes flying for the second night in succession after an unpredictable day at the inshore races for the Champagne Mumm Admiral's Cup.

The trio go into today's medium length offshore race with a five-point cushion over the second-placed defending champions, the United States, with their manager, Harry Cudmore, saying: "It was a hang-in there day, but it was a workmanlike performance in difficult circumstances."

It was the turn of the US, however, to cheer the efforts of the Annapolis- based Chris Larsen, who added two more candles to his 33rd birthday cake with a pair of wins in the Mumm 36 class in which he sailed away from his rivals. He thanked his tactician, Mike Drummond, saying: "I think we did a really good job and sailed well. Maybe tomorrow it will be someone else."

It was certainly a contrast for the previous day's winners, Britain's Adrian Stead and Tim Powell on Barlo Plastics, who had to be content with a fifth and a fourth, and the big boat, Venture 99, in the hands of Lawrie Smith, was seventh in the morning, second in the afternoon.

Most consistent were Chris Law and Graham Bailey on the 40ft Nautica of team captain, Stephen Bailey. They were second in the morning and led for most of the afternoon, but a couple of boat-handling errors were blamed for slipping to third on the last leg of the second race.

With the breeze shifting through up to 45 degrees, and differing in strength across the north central Solent 12 to 15-mile courses, picking the shifts was paramount. There were few passing lanes and as Larsen commented: "Once you are in the pack it can be like quicksand."

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