Sailing: Peters' polished display

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The Independent Online
THIS weekend the Ultra 30 yachts, which were designed to bring to Britain and Europe some of the thrills and spills of skiff racing in Australia and Ultimate 30 racing in the United States, commandeered the Mersey.

The locals who lined the Albert Dock walkway were given something to cheer as local man Russell Peters, from the West Kirby sailing club, outplayed the man who is supposed to be the star of the show, Lawrie Smith.

Peters, with two wins on Saturday and two seconds yesterday, won the pounds 8,750 prize - enough to buy a lifetime's supply of polish for the silverware. Smith had to be content with a pounds 2,000 consolation prize, courtesy of his Lymington Cup win on Friday.

Midway through their third season, the Ultras will this year be featured on Grandstand, they have a major sponsor, some well-known sailing names competing, and support from six regatta venues.

What is missing is partisan support. The star names are not those which trip off the tongue in the debating societies or the pubs.

Southampton football fans do not go to the Dell to roar 'come on Draper Tools', they go to support Southampton. Much less will Ultra spectators get behind the likes of DBS Barberry, which managed to moor itself mid-stream by hooking its day-glo yellow spinnaker round Dukes buoy. On the Ultras, the sponsors are so dominant they dwarf the competitors.