SAILING: French dream fades away

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The Independent Online


reports from Paris

France came tantalisingly close to cheating the odds and winning a place in the Louis Vuitton Cup semi-finals yesterday. A nerve-tingling display by the Spanish took Nippon Challenge, France's rivals for that place, to the wire. But a flurry of tacks approaching the top mark for the last time gave Nippon the lead which should secure their progress at the expense of the French.

The crowds gathered in the Louvre to watch the live relay on television soon had something to cheer as Pedro Campos decisively won the start against John Cutler. He built a useful lead of 44 seconds going round the top mark for the first time. In conditions entirely suited to the Spanish boat, Campos then added another seven seconds on the first spinnaker run.

As the wind freshened, the Spanish lead shrunk and the Louvre went a little quieter as they faced up to the end of France's campaign.

LOUIS VUITTON CUP (San Diego): Round-robin four: oneAustralia bt Sydney 95, 1min 54sec; Team New Zealand bt Nippon, 0:57; NZL 39 bt France 3, 2:38. Standings: 1 Team New Zealand, 65pts*; 2 NZL, 49*; 3 oneAustralia, 48*; 4 Nippon, 23; 5 France 3, 20; 6 Rioja de Espana, 14; 7 Sydney 95, 13.

* qualified for semi-finals

CITIZEN CUP: Round-robin four: Young America bt Stars and Stripes, 2:06. Standings: 1 Young America, 46; 2 Stars and Stripes, 32; 3 Mighty Mary, 21.