Sailing: 'No brainer' spoils day

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The Independent Online
The final inshore race of the 1995 Champagne Mumm Admiral's Cup, the Kenwood Cup, should have been a vintage one. But for what is meant to be one of the top racing fleets in the world, it was what the Americans would call a "no brainer", though they were all too polite to make public any criticism.

The American team was also putting up the best score of the day - again - though they are still upset at some of the other courses they have been set, particularly the third race in Christchurch Bay on Tuesday.

The course took the 24 yachts (three each from eight countries) off a start line from the Royal Yacht Squadron. At 9.40am, it was too early and, at 31 miles, too long. It opened with a tricky windward leg into the eastern Solent, followed by the first processional reach under spinnaker and the second under mainsail and headsail.

This CMAC fleet has some of the best helmsmen, sail trimmers and tacticians in the world. Most of the boats are at the leading edge of design and technology. The financial investments are enough to give even millionaires goose pimples.

To ask all this assembled array of racing excllence then to sit doing practically nothing for long-reaching legs is a waste of their time and talent, and reduces to almost nothing the opportunity for close-quarter skirmishing and changes in position. Instead, this was achieved by sending them back across the mid-Solent where, as often happens towards midday, there was a wind-split.

It was this which gave David Clarke's American 40-footer, Pigs in Space, the drop, for only the second time in the regatta, on his great Italian rival, Pasquale Landolfi's BravaQ8. They were, in any case, locked in a two-boat match race without ever having to worry about the other six. It also gave the South African big boat the break which led to her second win of the event.

The race then moved into the western Solent where, on a long slog against the tide down towards Lymington, the German boat banged her keel on the bottom going into the mainland shore to where the tide is weaker, and the Italian boat, Capricorno, perpetrated a glorious tangle trying to change from one spinnaker to another, which cost them several minutes of sailing under mainsail only.

Britain was again the highest scoring team in a low-scoring competition, coming last in two divisions and sixth in the Mumms.