Sailing: Law sets off on the right lines

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The Independent Online
A solid day's work in the Berthon Source Regatta at Lymington saw Graham Walker's 45ft Indulgence setting the pace for Britain's Admiral's Cup team by scoring two firsts.

The 40ft Easy Oars, with Geoff Stagg deputising for the absent helmsman Andy Beadsworth, was struggling to find form in a fleet notable for the dominance of the designer Bruce Farr being challenged by a trio of boats representing Germany, Scandinavia and the United States from the design boards of the Judel-Vrolijk partnership.

In the Mumm 36 fleet, John Merricks and Ian Walker, on Tim Barratt's Bradamante, had to recover from a premature start in the first race and retired from the second.

All seven national three-boat teams for the Admiral's Cup are using this three-day, six-race series in the Western Solent for fine tuning before the hostilities, which open in earnest on Thursday.

Showing strongly are the defending Italians and the ever-powerful Americans, although the threat from the New Zealanders has yet to show.

There was a good 12-14 knot south-westerly for the first of the day's races, strengthening to 18 knots in the afternoon with Indulgence's skipper, Chris Law, first picking a perfect spot in the middle left of the start line to execute a sweet port-tack start. He then kept up with the leaders, Russell Coutts on New Zealand's Numbers and the Kenny Read-Jim Brady partnership on America's Flash Gordon, to win on handicap.

At a crowded committee boat end of the second start, which Coutts declined to join, Law again hit the line at speed and the crew handled the boat impressively round the three-lap windward-leeward course to notch up a second win.