Sailing: Hopes fading for America's Cup bid

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The Independent Online
HOPES OF a British entry in the America's Cup this year were fading last night as time ran out to build a boat and money failed to be transferred by a group of private underwriters, even though the syndicate head, Professor Andrew Graves, had said the cash was promised.

Graves said there was still a slim hope, but acknowledged that the attempt to send the first British challenge to an America's Cup since 1986 may be wound up this weekend. He blamed the lack of a clear television contract as part of the reason for sponsors being unwilling to commit up to pounds 2m initially with another pounds 4m needed.

Nor has he given the go-ahead for syndicate manager Angus Melrose to fly to Auckland for a meeting of all the challengers which starts next Monday.

He denied reports that a team of boatbuilders had been flown from New Zealand to begin work in Weymouth.

On the water, in the Road to the America's Cup regatta, Dawn Riley's America True scored two wins yesterday to take the lead over France and Italy in the round-robin for the final place on Saturday against Team New Zealand.

In a dawn finish, Italy's Giovanni Soldini won the third leg of the Around Alone Race, completing the almost 7,000 miles from Auckland to Punta del Este, Uruguay, in 25 days, nine hours and 55 minutes.

France's Isabelle Autissier announced her retirement from single-handed ocean racing. She was rescued by Soldini when her yacht capsized 1,900 miles from Cape Horn.