Sailing: French in row over rating

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The Independent Online
AS RECORDS continued to tumble in the Fastnet Race yesterday a row emerged over the handicap rating of a high-profile French boat. The fastest time was set by Ross Field in an 80ft water-ballasted maxi one design as he sliced 8hr 47min from his own best and 7hr 15min off the 14-year record established by Nirvana.

But the record can only be claimed by a non-water- ballasted boat, so Johnnie Coumantaros in Boomerang took that on behalf of his cruise ship magnate father, George. Their new standard for the 21st century is 2days 6hr 48min, which is 5hr 52min better than Nirvana, but any hope of also lifting the Fastnet Trophy for the best corrected time had already been dashed.

To the consternation of the four maxis, the French solo yachtswoman Catherine Chabaud had stolen a march on them all on her Open 60 Whirlpool. However, her application for an IRC handicap certificate did not disclose the swing keel boat's additional forward water ballast facility, and it looked as though her elapsed time of 2days 5hr 22min would only stand as a new Open 60 record.

Alberto Roemmers in the maxi Alexia claimed Chabaud had an unfair handicap, and the Royal Ocean Racing Club race director, Alan Green, sought advice from both the French authorities who issued the racing certificate and their British counterparts. A new certificate was issued, which, if the tank had been sealed empty, would still have given Chabaud the trophy. Last night, despite the higher handicap, she was still leading overall.

Meanwhile, media mogul Ted Turner took most of the blame along with Chris Dickson, Gary Jobson and navigator Mark Rudiger for bringing Larry Ellison's Syonara home last of the four maxis.

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