Sailing: Divisions in the Union

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CONTINUING struggles over the future power base of the International Yacht Racing Union dominate behind-the-scenes meetings in Toronto this week.

Progress is being made on the simplification of the rules governing yacht racing, a brave face is being put on the prospects of a good Olympics in Savannah in 1996 and the issue of a qualifying system to make sure that only the best make it to the Olympics is being fudged.

The IYRU has had to pull back from hopes that strong countries could see more than one representative at the Games. Instead, each boat is regarded as a team and the IOC allows only one team per country. The ceiling of 443 competitors will remain, though the number in each of the 10 classes is not rigid.

But the central issue of a structure for the IYRU, and even a change in its name, remains fraught. For more than two years Britain's council member, Robin Aisher, has headed a working party on structure, but a parallel need highlighted by America's Tom Ehman for a 'mission statement' - that is a clear set of roles for the union to play - has yet fully to be addressed.

The executive of the union, which is based in London, continues to come under fire from those who see it purely as an instrument of disseminating and carrying out the wishes of the 124 member countries. Some would also like to see its role broadened from just yacht racing. Others wish to see the executive play a role in bringing forward policy and having more hands-on control of yachting events throughout the world.

In Punta del Este, Uruguay, Nance Frank has abandoned hope of restarting the Whitbread Race in the 60-foot US Women's Challenge. Her syndicate is bankrupt.

An attempt to knock 100 days off the 292 taken by Chay Blyth to sail the 'wrong way' round the world is to be made by Mike Golding in the 67-foot Group 4 starting from Southampton on 21 November.