Sailing: Law considers offer to compete for Australia

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The Independent Online
CHRIS LAW, Britain's representative in the Soling class in the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles, may compete for Australia in the Admiral's Cup this summer. Having successfully teamed up with Australia's Syd Fischer at Christmas to win the Sydney to Hobart classic in the 50-footer Ragamuffin, Law is considering a package which could extend over two years.

Fischer has announced that he will challenge for the America's Cup in 1995 and has made it clear that the team he puts together for the 1993 Admiral's Cup and 50ft circuit should also form the nucleus of his team in San Diego in 1995. He is also the captain of Australia's 1993 three-boat team.

Law lives in Fremantle and would therefore be able to fulfil the residential qualification and says that, at 40, he is again hungry for success. Yet he admits, 'There is nothing I would like more than to go back to Britain to be part of a successful America's Cup campaign.'

His more pressing problem this week is to defend the Australia Cup match-racing title he won last year. Law, ranked 12 in the world ratings, will be up against nine of the world's top match-racing skippers, challenging for a first prize of about pounds 9,000 at the Royal Perth Yacht Club of Western Australia starting tomorrow. A successful defence would be the basis both of a successful tilt at the world match-racing title, and the other two events he has targeted for 1993, the 50ft circuit and the Formula One Grand Prix.

Whatever agreements Law reaches, they are always open to review by Fischer, who manages to be both crusty and mercurial at the same time. Fischer now finds himself as one of the elder statesmen of the America's Cup and he is eager to succeed after three attempts to win the trophy.

It is unlikely, however, that Fischer will join forces with the other Australian America's Cup challenge being spearheaded by John Bertrand, who skippered for Alan Bond when they won the Cup from the United States in 1983. There was little co-operation when Iain Murray failed in San Diego to win back the Cup he lost in Fremantle in 1987 and Murray is thought to be on Bertrand's design team.

Law has had his own problems, both personal, as an unsettling divorce has taken its toll, and financial, not least in a costly yacht restoration project. 'I have been advised to go bankrupt and walk away from it,' he said, 'but I do not want to do that.' Yet he enjoyed sailing alongside Hughie Treharne for the Hobart race, the man whom Fischer brought in at the end of his San Diego campaign after dismissing his first-choice skipper, Phil Thompson.

Another seasoned campaigner in the Fischer camp is Andrew Cape, who was central to Michael Peacock's Juno team. Peacock is still nominally in charge of the British Admiral's Cup team, but will not be sailing his 50-footer as he is suffering from ill-health.

OLIVIER de KERSAUSON, of France, yesterday beat his rivals to the start of the race to be the first yachtsman to circumnavigate the world in 80 days. De Kersauson set off in the 92ft trimaran, Charal, from Brest in his attempt to recreate the voyage of Jules Verne. Britain's Robin Knox-Johnston (who is sailing with New Zealand's Peter Blake) and France's Bruno Peyron will compete in their own vessels for the Jules Verne Trophy from a start line in the Atlantic.

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