Sailing: Budgen brothers make swell start to series

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The Independent Online
There were plenty of spills on the opening day of the Audi Laser 5,000 National Championships yesterday, with capsized boats littering Hayling Bay.

In a thrilling display of power, Andy and Ian Budgen, the defending champions, won all three races to establish not just a commanding lead but a psychological advantage over the 51-boat fleet.

The series for the high-performance double trapeze dinghies, which are trying to be accepted as a new Olympic class for Sydney 2000, is a tough one, with 14 races scheduled before the prize-giving on Friday.

It has attracted entries from 10 countries, including a clutch of Olympians led by the Savannah silver medallist Ben Ainslie, who teams up with another Laser sailor, Iain Percy, as crew. Their best result was a 13th placing.

The Barcelona 470 representative Paul Brotherton scored a second in the final race of the day, the strength of his crew, Tim Hancock, telling as the south-westerly breeze piped up to 16 knots. But only the Budgen brothers could produce consistent performances as crews tired in the lumpy swell. Six different boats filled the second and third placings in the day's three races.

Jean-Philippe Saliou's Gavroche kept France in the lead of the Teacher's Round Britain Challenge yesterday. The 10 boats, two each from England, Scotland, Wales, Ireland and France, were into the second day of the second leg from Galway to Oban.

Scotland's Jon Fitzgerald, in Glendronach, took second place, with Craig Nutter in third place for England and gaining ground in Newcastle Quayside.