Sailing: Conner in race to be ready for showdown

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BOATBUILDERS RATHER than yacht racers were facing the toughest competition here yesterday as light airs slowed the pace on the Hauraki Gulf in the Louis Vuitton Cup.

Dennis Conner's team were making the best of their two-day reprieve to repair the stern section of Stars & Stripes, while Italy's Francesco de Angelis was also asking for a busy night's work from the Prada syndicate after laying the foundation of only his second defeat by crunching his bow on the stern of Paul Cayard's AmericaOne during the pre-start manoeuvring.

Conner is confident of a return to the racecourse tomorrow, when, in a re-jigged racing programme, he will occupy central stage with the New York Yacht Club's Young America. But, before that, today sees the other big showdown of the final round-robin before the cut for the six to move onto the semi-final stage of the Louis Vuitton Cup in January.

The rescheduling brings Prada head to head with Nippon Challenge today and, until Paul Cayard's new AmericaOne starts racing in the New Year, these two are clearly the fastest of the 11 challenger syndicates.