Sailing: Dickson makes successful return

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The Independent Online
All eyes may have been on the Chargers ashore, but the bolt from the blue on the waters off San Diego yesterday was directed by Chris Dickson at the team he skippered in the 1992 America's Cup, Nippon Challenge.

Dickson's Tag Heuer was making its debut in the Louis Vuitton Cup - the competition to find an America's Cup defender - in conditions, a stiff 15-knot westerly, that were not supposed to suit her. But Dickson beat his old tactician, John Cutler, to put in a fast start, came back from an unfavourable shift in the direction of the wind to win a tacking duel, and went round the top mark 15 seconds ahead.

He then came back from a fouled-up spinnaker set, when he was passed by Nippon, but won a gybing duel to regain the lead and go round the bottom mark 28 seconds ahead, extending that to 1min 18sec by the second windward mark. Dickson is back.

Also making their debut was the Pact '95 defence syndicate and, despite a good start by Kevin Mahaney, they were beaten to the top mark by Leslie Egnot and JJ Isler in America3. Pact has had problems repairing its boat after being damaged in the storms of early January and there was more trouble yesterday.

Not only did they lose the use of their electronic instrumentation, they also were struggling with their mainsail control sheet, and that allowed the Cubettes to keep ahead. The all-woman team had no problems with the fresher breeze but Mahaney was able to eat into their lead and forced a penalty during a tacking duel on the third beat, which gave him the lead and the race.

CITIZEN CUP Round Robin 1, Race 4: Pact '95 bt America3 by 37sec. LOUIS VUITTON CUP Round Robin 1, Race 2: Tag Heuer (NZ) bt Nippon Challenge (Japan) by 57sec; Team New Zealand bt FranceAmerica by 2min 40sec; Sydney '95 (Aus) bt Bayone-Valencia (Sp) by 3min 43sec.