Sailing: Rule of Law under threat

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The Independent Online
THE STAGE is set today for the continuation of a compelling knock- out semi-final at the BT/RYA National Match racing championship in Falmouth. The world's No. 2 match racer Chris Law is through, so too is the Omega Match Racing Achievement Award winner Andy Green, with the good news being that the two are paired together.

Both had progressed easily through the 28-team elimination stages to the four-boat semi-final. Green had sailed 16 races and won every one of them. Law had dropped just one race. According to the world-ranking lists, Law should have had no trouble: Green is ranked 35 places below him. In reality, down here in Falmouth, Green is on song. And it showed as he dished out a pre-start penalty to Law, sailed the veteran over the start-line early and walked away to an easy win in the first of the best- of-five semi-final series last night.

The other semi-final is shaping up to be a more measured affair. The defending champion Ian Williams faces his former skipper, Richard Sydenham. Both say they concentrate more on boat speed and crew work and let their sailing, not their aggression, do the talking. And although the pair trasded tacks up the first beat of their first semi-final match, Sydenham eased ahead and was never troubled thereafter.

Ironically, to progress to this stage Sydenham beat his Olympic skipper Andy Beadsworth in three straight races in the best of five contest. Sydenham was quicker and his crew work smoother. Beadsworth, three-times winner of this event, admitted to missing the input of Sydenham in his boat, disappointing here in the short term but good news for British medal hopes as Beadsworth and Sydenham prepare for Sydney 2000.

"When I last won this event I won every race but the standard has raised so much here this time that we have nowhere near done that."

The four quarter-finals were settled here in three straight races. The semi-final prospect is far less one-sided with experts on the shoreside predicting a Green/Williams final. With one win against Law Green is sailing confidently, Sydenham meanwhile is looking smooth.

Meanwhile in the Atlantic, the French skipper Marc Thiercelin continues to hold the lead in first leg of The Around Alone race towards Cape Town. Britain's Mike Golding in Team Group 4 seems to have overcome earlier problems to move up into second place, 60 miles behind the French skipper and eight miles in front of his fellow Briton Josh Hall aboard Gartmore.

In a similar fashion, Mark Garside has moved Magellan Alpha into second place in class two, just 13 miles behind Jean Pierre Mouligne's Cray Valley.

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