Schumann toasts success

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The Independent Online
Britain were in equal fifth place in the Admiral's Cup yesterday in Christchurch Bay as another spate of protests was keeping the international jury busy here last night.

The Americans held on to their lead despite their big boat, Flash Gordon, losing the bowman, David Navin, overboard at the bottom of the sixth leg of the first of the day's two races.

Navin was picked up after a couple of minutes, but the American boat finished last. Then, to add insult to injury, the New Zealand boat Numbers announced they were to protest.

Russell Coutts, the Kiwi skipper who won that race, hoped to dispute the overall lead with the Americans by the end of the day, but he, too, had problems in the second race, sailed in a 10 to 16-knot easterly and some chilling rain. His first hoist, after a disappointing beat, saw the spinnaker blow apart, and he later lost a headsail for a time.

The performance of the day, however, came from Germany. A pre-start libation of dry sherry poured into the water by the 80-year-old owner Hans-Otto Schumann seemed to spur his Rubin, skippered by Jochen Schumann, to greater success.

But the additional damage was done by Thomas Friese's Mumm 36, I Punkt, who found some of her World Championship-winning form to score a first and a second place and put Germany second overall by three-eighths of a point over the New Zealanders.

Britain, stung after two successful protests on Monday had pushed them from second to fourth, still had reasons to cheer. They came from John Merricks and Ian Walker, who won the second race in the Mumm 36 class, and Chris Law. Law steered Graham Walker's Corum Indulgence to second in the same rubber. Merricks and Walker also led the first race, only to slip to fifth, and Tony Buckingham's 40-footer, Easy Oars, looking short of firepower, was further hit in the first race by tearing a sail they needed for the second.

Despite the cancellation of 16 classes for fear of severe squalls and the abandonment of two more after starting, the Melges 24 and Etchells, the sponsors Skandia Life announced it would back the event for two more years, at about pounds 350,000 a year.

For those who did race in the miserable conditions, John Caulcutt's Maxima was rewarded with victory over the Ericsson 80s and Mike Slade's Longabarda in the Maxi race around Nab Tower.