Sailing: Turner tops perfect day

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The Independent Online
FOR THE enthusiasts lining the shore and the more ordinary mortals crewing nearly 900 boats out on the water, Cowes Week does not get much better than this. After the moderate morning that followed heavy overnight rain had given way to a glorious summer afternoon they were treated to the best racing of the Skandia Life week so far, capped by a win in the maxi class for the America's Cup winner, the CNN billionaire Ted Turner.

He came home just ahead of Jim Dolan's Sagamore and they were followed closely, after a 50-mile contest round the Isle of Wight, by a pair of the Maxi One designs contesting the Adecco World Championship. Having been last on their opening day, South Africa's Geoff Meek yesterday brought Rainbow Magic home in first place, ahead of the series leader, Ludde Ingvall in Skandia.

Earlier, the Class 1 struggle to win the Bathsheba Trophy bore witness to some of the changes that are taking place both here in Cowes and in sailing generally. Four classes, including the Class 1s, made the early morning slog through the murk down the western Solent to their start line for the day, not off Cowes but a committee boat ride away from the hubbub.

One of the yachts is a 50-footer called United Airlines, which is the first big boat to be built to the Royal Ocean Racing Club's new handicapping rule, IRM. While its owner, Peter Morton, was guiding the 50ft Venture through the Admiral's Cup for Britain, a team of boatbuilders in the Elephant Boatyard at the top of the Hamble were completing a major project in just nine and a half weeks.

Under the deck and rig of an old Italian 50-footer, Mandrake, they put a new hull, made not of carbon or Kevlar but cedar and foam, designed by the San Francisco-born, but Wicklow-based Mark Mills. United Airlines then added it to the company's sponsorship programme for Ultra 30s and Britain's Ian Walker and Mark Covell, in their Olympic campaign.

She may be faster and more stable than her rivals, but as Andy Beadsworth took her third over the line (fifth on handicap) he knew that was not enough. "Today will belong to the lead mines," Morton said. Sure enough, Richard Matthews, with enough of the stuff in the keel of his 12-metre Crusader to mend two church roofs, made minor alchemy to grab the silverware.

Results, Digest, page 23