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21 August 2001, 12:41 pm
Coutts Leads
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©Jon Nash

12 Metre World Championship
Cowes, Isle of Wight

Kiwi America’s Cup winner Russell Coutts and his Swiss Alinghi syndicate won one race and were second in another to lead the International 12-Metre Grand Prix Class today on Eastern Solent.
Racing their boat South Australia in the Prada International 12-Metre Class World Championships, the Swiss prevailed in tight racing against Team New Zealand, sailing Kiwi Magic, skippered by Coutt's protégé Cameron Appleton, and the American Twelve Hissar steered by former Cup winner Gary Jobson.

"It was close racing," said Coutts. "The afternoon called for a lot of different tactics and strategies. The Solent is a wonderful place to sail on days like this when it gets complicated." Racing with Coutts and the Swiss team in the navigator's seat is their syndicate head, Ernesto Bertarelli.

"The whole event is wonderful - this collection of boats and people," Coutts said. "People are treating this for what it is. It's not the America's Cup, it's a celebration of the America's Cup."

Flat seas, strong tides, and a shifty, patchy southwesterly breeze that fluctuated from six to ten knots made for challenging conditions and kept the results mixed up. Local Solent ace Harold Cudmore, sailing Richard Matthew's Crusade which he steered in the 1986 Louis Vuitton Cup, locked up fourth place with a first place in the second race of the day, after a disappointing seventh in the fleet of ten in the first race.

Two of Sir Michael Fay's three "Plastic Fantastics racing here at Cowes took the second and third places. Appleton, and a strong crew from the Team New Zealand Cup defenders, pushed KZ-7 against their former skipper now sailing for the Swiss. And Jobson's crew aboard Edgar Cato's KZ-5 now named Hissar was an equally determined crew of Cup veterans including top talent from America3 and Stars & Stripes.

Rounding out the celebrities at the top of the fleet, Aussie skipper John Bertrand and the original crew that took the America's Cup from Newport in 1983 were back aboard "the little white pointer" Australia II and finished fifth overall.

In the 12-Metre Modern Class, the 1967 and 1970 America's Cup winner Intrepid (3-1), sailed by John Curtin, tied with the 1980 Cup winner Freedom, (1-3) sailed by Ernest Jacquet. In the Classic Class, the 1938 Fife-built Flica, sailed by French Olympic gold medallist Thierry Peponnet, tied with the 1964 British challenger Sovereign, campaigned by J. Fauroux.

Keith Taylor/News Editor
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