Sailing: Matthews hopeful that tide will turn

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The Independent Online
RICHARD MATTHEWS, who is heading the British challenge for the 1995 America's Cup, yesterday hit back at suggestions of delay and indecision in his syndicate. He found support from Bill Koch, who successfully defended the cup for the United States, also in San Diego, in 1992.

'The British challenge is on track,' Matthews said at a challengers' meeting in Cowes. 'We are optimistic about the chances of securing funding for a late dash to the start. This is because we have deliberately waited for an upturn in the British economy. Confidence is a prerequisite to raising funds.

'We know we have lost a couple of people and this is a shame, but we are not going to start something we cannot finish and the experience of people like Harold Cudmore and Eddie Warden Owen continues to be a major asset of our programme. We have a few cards to play but, like any good player, we are keeping them close to our chest.'

Koch also pointed to the importance of Cudmore, who was a senior adviser to his America3 syndicate, when he said: 'I think there are only three people in the sailing world who really understand what the America's Cup is all about. They are Dennis Conner, Australia's John Bertrand, and your Harold Cudmore.'

He explained that management skills, technology and teamwork were crucial to success on the water. 'If you don't have (them) you will not win,' he said, adding that Britain certainly had the technology, a central factor in his own success.

Koch is still concerned at the cost of challenges, which he called 'absurd'. For the 1992 series of races, the two defending syndicates and the 10 challengers spent a total of about dollars 500m ( pounds 350m). 'It took about dollars 30m for everyone to get to 9.235 knots, and another dollars 40m to find the winning edge of another 0.7 of a knot,' Koch said.

As for returning to the fray himself, it seems that family commitments take precedence: 'I promised my son Wyatt, who will be seven at the end of this month, that I would not do the next America's Cup,' Koch said.

A challengers' meeting heard a request from the San Diego club to increase the final by two races to a best- of-nine series.