Sailing: Cayard's recovery is frustrated: Luck can scupper the plans of even the best. Hugh Bateson reports

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The Independent Online
THIS HAS not been the kindest of weeks for the very highest profiles in this gathering of the world's best sailors. Yesterday it was Paul Cayard's turn to suffer the brutish type of day which Harold Cudmore endured in the opening race of the Admiral's Cup.

Cayard, the Italian-based Californian who could not put quite enough wind up the Americans in the last America's Cup, has provided the 'talking boat', in horse-racing parlance, with his pacy one-tonner Brava Q8 and won the offshore channel race over the weekend.

Yesterday, in Hayling Bay, he came down to earth with two bumps about three and a half hours apart. Just before the start of the race he was prowling up and down the start- line, looking for the best angle of attack when he sailed too close to the buoy marking the end of the line, and hooked his boat on the buoy's anchoring cables.

Even when the race started after a 10-minute postponement, it was nearly two minutes before Cayard could start doing what he does best. That should have been the last anyone saw of Cayard yesterday, but donating the equivalent of a 15-yard start to the field in an Olympic 100 metres race merely forced Brava to fly.

A hard day's work was looking to be well rewarded as he turned the last mark in second place and headed for home. But with the wind nudging force six and the sea choppy enough to unsettle several sponsors' lunches, the pressures on equipment mounted, and Brava snapped - seven feet above deck level.

Cayard and his team were left with a slow, wet, two-hour journey back to port, and a long night setting up the replacement mast, which was awaiting them on the quay, and working on the rudder damaged by the buoy. Do not bet against them winning.

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