Sailing: Peters wins Ultra title

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WITH A race to spare, Russell Peters won the 1998 Ultra 30 Grand Prix circuit in Guernsey yesterday. Only two people have won the Ultra series in its nine-year history, Lawrie Smith having taken all the other titles, except in 1995, when Peters pipped him for the only time.

This year there have been only three regattas, the others at Portsmouth and Cardiff, and Smith has been absent, sojourning in Ireland after driving Silk Cut in the last Whitbread Race.

So Peters, a dinghy champion in Fireflies International 14s and team racing, was able to get DBS back in front in a year which has seen the introduction of wire trapezes for all nine of the crew, in addition to racks on which to lean out.

"Nine on a wire has really livened things up," said Peters in St Peter Port yesterday. "Everyone had sorted out how to sail these difficult boats and this provided a new dimension. Not least, the closing speeds are much faster and quicker thinking is required. It looks spectacular on television, but it's a bit frightening and more difficult for the helmsman.

"It's been a very good year, very nice to win, and we look forward to defending our title next year, when there should be more venues, including at least one abroad," he added.

In second place was Glyn Charles, who captained United Airlines and was vying for the overall lead until the last day, when his chances were blown after a collision with Eddie Warden Owen in Hoya. Charles was disqualified from that race but held on to his silver medal slot in a tie-breaker with Kevin Sproul, who was making a late run in Henri Lloyd.

In an angry broadside against the New Zealand management of the 2000 America's Cup, the International Sailing Federation (ISAF) president Paul Henderson said yesterday: "It has steeled the ISAF's resolve with regard to the America's Cup and the fact that they [the AC competitors] must support the broad base of racing sailing by funding the services the ISAF provide."

Henderson is particularly upset by a statement from Team New Zealand's director, Tom Schnackenberg, saying that the America's Cup should charge the ISAF for promoting sailing. The ISAF president feels a confrontation over who runs the sport, as happened in golf, is "fast approaching" and suggests the ISAF might seek to ban competitors from taking part in other events, which includes the demand for about $65,000 per AC syndicate to be paid to the ISAF, if the issue is not settled.