Sailing: Sidewinder brings best out of Best: Lack of wind a problem

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The Independent Online
THOSE who carry iced Bombay gin and tonic in their Thermos flasks were best prepared for a slow day on the Solent yesterday. No wind meant shortened courses as hundreds of competitors struggled to do anything better than stem the tide, except, when the course asked them to go with it.

At least progress was being made ashore, where a shaft of common sense persuaded everyone to agree that Wednesday's abandoned Britannia Cup, when the fleet was sent to a non-existent buoy, should be sailed again today. The winner of the double-header in Class One will also take the Rocking Chair Trophy, as long as it is then left in its home, the Island Sailing Club.

That left yesterday's other prestige prize of the week, the New York Yacht Club Challenge Cup, won by the old Irish one-tonner Sidewinder to give Ulsterman David Best his second win of the week. He kicked off the week with a stylish win and yesterday beat Keith Millers' Crackerjack by nearly 15 minutes and Graham Walker's Indulgence by a further two minutes. Walker had to employ a little judicious anchorwork on a course that sent the Class One boats into the west on the tide and brought them back home when the tide changed.

Proving there is life just outside the Solent, the top three boats in the Sigma 33 class are all from Itchenor, all sailed by former National Swallow apprentices. Leading is David Palmer, in Honey, third yesterday after starting 11 minutes late. 'The two heroines were our tactician Mimie Currie and spinnaker trimmer Christine Graves,' Palmer said.

There were many new names in the winners' frames. Mike Eaton's Quencher missed out on even a top three placing in Class 3, Jeremy Lear was pushed into second place for the first time in Victory class, and Peter Baines' Wenda slipped to fifth in the X One Design, but is still the boat to beat in the Captain's Cup.

Gathering in Cowes today are the crew of Multiple Challenge, a 41-foot Sigma, which competes in the Teesside Round Britain Race, starting tomorrow, with a rotating group of multiple sclerosis sufferers, skippered by the Royal Yachting Association sailing instructor, Nick Booth.

In La Rochelle, the British team lies fourth in the International Yacht Racing Union World Championships going into the final races. Jon Merricks and Ian Walker are third in the 470s, Mark Littlejohn fourth in the Laser, and Stuart Jardine fifth in the J24.

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