Sailing: Dalton's broadside fails to sink Smith: New Zealand skipper launches a personal attack on his Whitbread rival as strife hits life on the ocean wave


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The Independent Online

A blistering attack on the top British skipper and 1992 Olympic bronze medal winner, Lawrie Smith, was last night launched by his Whitbread race rival, Grant Dalton, of New Zealand. While the simmering row over whether or not the clipper bows on Dalton's and two new French maxis should be penalised was resolved in designer Bruce Farr's favour, it boiled over into a personal attack by Dalton on Smith.

'Over the recent few weeks much has been said on this issue in the press, albeit one-sided,' Dalton said in a statement from his yacht's base in Gosport, Hampshire. 'Laurie (sic) Smith, skipper of Fortuna (the Spanish maxi) has been at the forefront of many allegations.

'It's a shame that the sport has to endure people like Smith, whose idea of fair play and sportsmanship seems to be distorted. Despite the fact that he was involved in similar antics last time (as skipper of Rothmans in 1989/90) he failed to finish better than fourth.

'Smith's antics have been no more than a misguided attempt at a smoke screen and he would serve his sponsors and country better by concentrating more on the job of winning on the water, rather than trying to drag the sport and the Whitbread race into a non-issue technical argument.'

Dalton concludes that 'the end result of all this is that Smith has made a number of misinformed allegations, which have sadly discredited both himself, the Whitbread race and the sport from which he derives his income. As possibly England's best yachtsman, one would think he would try harder to be an ambassador for the sport, but obviously he has little regard for his position. With this issue now out of the way, we hope his behaviour will now improve and we look forward to meeting him on the water.'

Smith said: 'He's saying that sailing results mean more than words, so he'd better check out his results and compare them with mine. I don't think he's won anything as a skipper.'

Lymington Cup results, page 35