Trading places in trials

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The Independent Online
Sailing

STUART ALEXANDER

From the moment the bell rang to signal the opening round of the Brut Olympic Trials in Weymouth yesterday there was a cutting edge to the races. At stake is the right to represent Great Britain at the Olympics next year in nine of the 10 classes ranging from windsurfers to three-man keelboats.

The sole single-handed Laser race was abandoned because of a finish line mix-up, while the winners of the first race swapped with the runners-up in the second race of an increasingly blustery day. And in a fifth class, second and third were reversed.

First away were the men in the double-handed 470 dinghy with the pair at the top of the world rankings, John Merricks and Ian Walker, looking as though they would dominate at home in the way they have abroad for the last 12 months.

Chasing them was the 1992 Olympic representative, Paul Brotherton. He is no respecter of other people's reputations and rarely lacks confidence in his own ability, and he pushed Merricks and Walker down a place in the second race.

The same was true in the women's 470 when Bethan Raggatt and Sue Carr exchanged firsts and seconds with Severine Rees-Jones and Inga Leask. In the Finns, Richard Stenhouse and Rob McMillan rang the changes, as did Penny Way and Jane Clague on the boards. In the men's boards, Barry Edgington and Howard Plumb had a second and a third apiece.

Joining the fray today are the Solings, who will use one-on-one match racing as their selection process. This has attracted young pretenders such as Stuart Childerley, winner of the Soling World Match Racing Championships, and Andy Beadsworth. Against them are the likes of Chris Law and Eddie Warden Owen, who have long been working the world circuit.

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