Selection problems for Admiral's Cup

Selection problems, some welcome, some not, dominated the 1995 season preview given by the Royal Yachting Association as the Boat Show opened in London yesterday.

Most pressing is the search for a team to represent Britain in this year's Admiral's Cup. Up to five yachts will compete for the small (Mumm 36) boat place, including two lots of six 10-mile races in Christchurch Bay, Dorset, and Nieuwpoort, Belgium.

However, there is only "registered interest" from two potential owners/syndicates in the big boat (45-50 foot) class, and the combined RYA/Royal Ocean racing Club selection committee, chaired by Robin Aisher, is sending Bill Edgerton, the national keelboat coach, to Miami later this month as part of the search for a likely 40-footer.

At the end of August, the RYA will be holding trials for the 1996 UK Olympic team in Portland, but while there will be good competition in the 470 dinghy, Finn, Europe, and especially Laser singlehanders, the Soling three-man keelboat is looking thin, and the two-man Star class, in which Britain won gold in 1988, is positively skeletal.

The clothing manufacturer, Douglas Gill, and Sola, the wetsuit maker, have signed up to support the team, boosting funding from the Sports Aid Foundation, but the RYA is looking for major sponsorship backing, as individual competitors, such as the world No 1-ranked John Merricks and Ian Walker in the 470, and Shirley Robertson in the Europe, also enjoy corporate backing.

In contrast, the national match-racing championship, for which BT has confirmed its continuing sponsorship, is strengthening its reputation as a ladder for grassroots talent, giving them the opportunity to meet established campaigners.

West Kirby Sailing Club will be the venue for the first IYRU World Team Racing Championship, the only quirk being the choice of Firefly dinghies, rather than the Olympic two-handed class, the 470.