Sailing: Lennon imagines more glory

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The Independent Online
Mike Lennon was yesterday halfway to a fully paid trip to Key West, Florida, in winning the seven-race series for Melges 24s at Cowes Week. The national champion counted four firsts, two seconds and a third to take him to Barcelona in October for the deciding Gold Cup series, where he must beat Italy's Giorgio Zuccoli, the winner of the first qualifier in Kiel, Germany.

The American-designed sportsboats have grabbed attention here because there is more than just the Cowes Week glory as a reward for winning. Lennon is relieved not to have to sail today, when another strong wind is forecast. "This year I was a lot more tense than last. The class is increasingly attractive to top sailors, including Olympic medallists, but the win here also puts me psychologically in a good position to defend the national championship at Brixham in a couple of weeks."

He expects Barcelona to be equally tough in the race to represent Europe against the Americans in January.

The committee failed to note down the sportsboat finish, and also having a little difficulty finding the right course was Ludde Ingvall's Nicorette - "a slight clerical error", the navigator said. They sat on Mike Slade's Longobarda, pouring dirty air down on her and forcing her back to third as the Russians scored their first maxi win. Johnny Caulcutt's Maxipep finished second.

A fourth placing was enough to give Nicorette the maxi prize for the week overall, but the Class One decider will be between two Bashford-Howison 41s. Glyn Williams made it two in a row yesterday as his Wolf, steered by Matt Humphries, pipped by 59 seconds Jocelyn Waller's Silk 2, steered by Mark Heeley, with Gordon Maguire calling the shots.

Humphries praised the navigator Julian Salter for keeping them out of trouble as Silk 2 and Nigel Bramwell's Hawk both went aground off Beaulieu. "It was a very tactical race and we sailed well," said Humphries, the skipper of Dolphin & Youth in the 1993-94 Whitbread.