Sailing: Host's bid foundering

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The Independent Online

Protracted negotiations to find the middle-sized boat of the three required by the British team for their Champagne Mumm Admiral's Cup challenge should be concluded today. But, just as the Royal Yachting Association thought it had plugged the last gap with either the 40-footer the Germans left out, or an Italian back-up, a yawning gap has emerged for the biggest boat.

The loss of the Team Regatta Scotland bid has left the selectors, Robin Aisher, Peter Schofield and Nick Ryley, in a scramble to twist a few arms on providing and financing an entry that would save the host country's face and give it a competitive piece of equipment.

There is a possibility that John Cutler, a New Zealand Olympic bronze medallist and Japanese America's Cup helmsman, could skipper the 40-footer. He has been expressing interest in sailing for Britain, where he was born within kicking distance of Manchester City's Maine Road.

The big boat for Britain is the big problem. Even if a suitable one is found, the crew will be thrown in at the deep end having not sailed together, had little time to tune up the boat, and not having raced against the opposition, which will be strong.