Making their debut in offshore racing, they had put Tim Barrett's Bradamante into third place and held off the world champion Tomas Friese's I Punkt for four hours, when they steered close into the island of Montechristo. "Then it all went sticky," Merricks said. "We found ourselves too close to the cliffs, in a hole with no wind, and couldn't get out." I Punkt had put a mile and half between themselves and Bradamante before the British team were back on track. They finished 15th.
Alexis Michas' American yacht, Chunky Monkey, came through to win the 94-mile race, but Friese's I Punkt was second to establish a big lead as the 18-boat fleet goes into three more inshore sprints today and a final short race tomorrow. Merricks has slipped from second to fifth overall, but said: "I was surprised it wasn't more and we are only nine points behind second place. We have learned heaps."
MUMM 36 WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP (Punta Ala, It) Overall positions (after seven races): 1 G Brady (I Punkt, Ger) 24pts; 2= C Larson (Jameson, US), T Grael (Bravo, Bra) 44.5; 4 V Vascotto (Osama, It) 50; 5= J Merricks and I Walker (Bradamante, GB), T Chieffi (Breeze, It) 53.5.