Sailing: Dickson calls for change

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The Independent Online
AS the New Zealander, Chris Dickson, turned his thoughts to the Tutukaka Challenge he is mounting for the 1995 America's Cup he gave two cheers and a warning blast for the future of the Whitbread Round the World Race yesterday.

Dickson came close to winning at his first attempt in the new W60 class, but a mast failure on the fifth leg wrecked all the other good work. History will say he was fifth, but he scored three firsts and two seconds on the other five legs.

'The trouble is the record books won't show what we did,' he said. 'The end result is mixed feelings, but I would like to temper any apparent criticism. Half of me says that was a great competition, the sailing experience of my life. The other half asks if it is really worthwhile to put in the time and effort to do a really professional job.'

He feels the race could benefit from a higher level of professionalism across the board 'and I'm not talking about necessarily spending more money'.

Dickson's discomfort stems from a feeling that the rules governing the race are concocted in a cosy club-like atmosphere with the competitors sometimes left in the dark. 'I accept the event the way it is, I'm not trying to change it,' he said. 'They can run it how they like. It's then up to me to decide whether I play or not.'

The all-women crew on Heineken suffered another setback yesterday when their emergency rudder broke loose as they struggled to complete the Whitbread race. With the yacht 377 miles from the finish, the shaft between the replacement rudder and tiller snapped, leaving skipper Dawn Riley and her crew virtually drifting in the Channel.

Uruguay Natural, the only other boat still racing, was expected to finish early today.

First blood in the Etchells 22 European Championship went to Britain's Tim Law, crewed by his brother Chris, in the Solent yesterday. Second in the seven-race series was Dennis Conner.