Sailing: Smith left by Heiner: Stuart Alexander reports on the Lymington Cup

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The Independent Online
FROM the most unpromising conditions came some thrilling match racing on the first day of the Lymington Cup yesterday, with Roy Heiner, of the Netherlands, winning all six of his starts to take an impressive lead.

Heiner was well on his way to winning a seventh race when it was abandoned as the tide began to flood into the western Solent and an already shifty breeze swung back north of west.

Despite the grey skies and only a light four to eight-knot breeze, the racing was close between the 10 identical 35ft Beneteau yachts. Victories were hard-earned, and, with competition not finishing until well after 6pm, the crews had to endure a nine-hour day.

Britain's Lawrie Smith was pitted against the dominant Heiner in the abandoned race - they will also meet in the Soling three-man keelboat in Barcelona - and the 35-year-old Lancastrian breathed a sigh of relief when it was called off. Smith finished with two wins and four defeats, blaming a slow boat, particularly downwind.

He was looking less than sharp, whereas Ian Southworth, who recently regained the UK national J24 title and contested the finals of the Nations Cup in Barcelona last year, scored four to two.

He beat Smith with an aggressive swerving luff to windward - no contact, said Southworth's crewman, Neal McDonald. No contact, said Smith's Ossie Stewart. Pen-

alty, said the umpire - and then beat him over the line as well.

Heiner was the only man to beat second-placed Peter Holmberg, of the US Virgin Islands. That was a reversal of the 1988 Olympics, when Holmberg won silver in the Finn.

The 10 skippers are expected to complete the first nine-race round robin today and go straight on to the second.

Meanwhile, in St Tropez, Britain's Harry Cudmore shares the Kouros Cup lead with Australia's Gordon Lucas and America's Peter Isler. They have four wins each, with the Kiwis, Chris Dickson and Russell Coutts, sharing equal fourth with Italy's Tommaso Chieffi. All have three wins.

WIGHTLINK LYMINGTON CUP, Round Robin 1, Flight 1: P Campos (Sp) bt J Bank (Den); L Delage (Fr) bt L Smith (GB); G Flynn (NZ) bt G Meek (SA); I Southworth (GB) bt P Thomson (Can); R Heiner (Neth) bt P Holmberg (VI). Flight 2: Delage bt Meek; Flynn bt Southworth; Heiner bt Thomson; Bank bt Smith; Holmberg bt Campos; Flight 3: Heiner bt Flynn; Smith bt Meek; Holmberg bt Bank; Thomson bt Campos; Southworth bt Delage. Flight 4: Holmberg bt Smith; Thomson bt Bank; Flynn bt Campos; Heiner bt Delage; Southworth bt Meek. Flight 5: Bank bt Flynn; Campos bt Delage; Heiner bt Meek; Southworth bt Smith; Holmberg bt Thomson. Flight 6: Campos bt Meek; Heiner bt Southworth; Smith bt Thomson; Holmberg bt Flynn; Delage bt Bank. Standings after six races: 1 Heiner 6-0; 2 Holmberg 5-1; 3 Southworth 4-2; 4= Campos, Delage, Flynn 3-3; 7= Bank, Smith, Thomson; 10 Meek 0-6.

(Photograph omitted)

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