Sailing: Italians atone for past Cup failures

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The Independent Online
Italy pipped the United States to win the Champagne Mumm Admiral's Cup yesterday as the end of the Fastnet Race in Plymouth became a signal for Rod Davis, the Italian coach, to release a rush of pent-up nervous energy.

Davis, in the past an American gold medallist, a Kiwi silver medallist and an Australian America's Cup helmsman, said: "In 1991 we should have won it and how the French did it I still don't know. In 1993 we should have won it and everyone knows why we didn't and why Germany took the cup. But in 1995 the Americans should have won it. They outsailed us, hammered us, but perhaps this is the time when God did some evening up.''

He had steered the big boat, Rinaldo del Bono's Caricorno, to a three- place win over Bob Towse's Blue Yankee. Francesco de Angelis and Paul Cayard in the ILC 40 BravaQ8 beat by just seven minutes David Clarke and Kenny Read's Pigs in Space which, on the way out, hit the rocks at The Lizard hard enough to dent the bow and require floor boards and bunks to be chopped up to shore up two areas of delamination in the forward section.

The keel, too, took another hard bang which, because it had been hastily fitted with stainless steel straps as a temporary repair to cracks found the night before the start, was then constantly monitored to make sure it was not beginning to move or work too alarmingly.

The final nail in the American coffin was driven home at 12.38.13 yesterday when Tommaso Chieffi and Eddie Warden Owen won the 36ft class in Mumm a Mia! "The last two days have seemed like a week," said a tired but alert Warden Owen. "We knew that on the small boat we have an enormous responsibility, because everyone is relying on your performance.''

Italy went into the race nearly 22 points behind and came out nearly 26 points ahead as each place counted 4.5 times its value. Two firsts and a fourth against a second and two sevenths. Bob Towse, the US team captain, said: "We'll just keep on sailing and the US will be back in 1997. Some days dreams just don't come true, but it's a dream worth pursuing." The US last won in 1969, the first year Italy challenged.

The only consolation for the British team was their borrowed German big boat, Group 4 Seahorse, skippered by the veteran Robin Aisher, winning the big boat class after taking their weather expert's advice to go south and offshore to look for better breeze in what has been a drawn out, light airs affair. Both their other boats were last in the class. The rest was all a horrow show as the team finished last.

For Britain the good news is that the CMAC remains the premier international team event in the world, though there are major criticisms of the way it is run, and complaints of a lack of understanding about the views of those who have turned their back on it.

With better breezes settling in, it was hoped that the remainder of the 242 competitors would make improved progress.

Results, Sporting Digest, page 25