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23 August 2001, 04:51 pm
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12 Metre World Championships
Cowes, Isle of Wight

The cream rose to the top today on the Solent as the competitors in the Prada International 12-Metre Class World Championships tried, and mostly failed, to add another race to the scorecard
It was a Down Under day as Kiwi Russell Coutts and his mixed Swiss/Kiwi crew aboard South Australia, beat John Bertrand and his Aussies on Australia II in the Grand Prix Class, with young New Zealander Cameron Appleton and the Team New Zealand contingent aboard Kiwi Magic finishing third.

After delivering sparkling conditions for a fast ride around the Isle of Wight yesterday, the Solent turned sulky today, the exact anniversary of the first race for the America's Cup. Sullen skies and an almost total lack of breeze forced a delay in racing and when racing did start, competitors had to contend with the biggest and fastest tidal currents of the year.

It was a deadly combination and only the Grand Prix Class were able to stay the distance thanks to marginally better light air performance and an earlier start than their older sisters.

Coutts and his Swiss Alinghi Challenge shipmates sailed their 12-Metre South Australia around the course in first place, pursued but never caught by Bertrand and the Aussie veterans on Australia II. The Grand Prix boats barely weathered the tidal trap waiting for them at the leeward mark but were able to get around the mark, harden up on port tack and then drift sideways in the tide for over a mile until they got out of the worst of the current on the Isle of Wight shore.

In the classes that followed, a slight increase in the current and a slackening in the already fickle breeze saw some competitors swept past the mark without rounding and others struggling to make any headway. Anchoring became the tactic of choice to stay near the top of the fleet. After an agonizing hour with boats with slack sails piling up at the leeward mark, the race committee delivered the coup de grace and abandoned racing for all Twelves except the Grand Prix Class.

Coutts leads on points after three races, with a low-point score of 4. Appleton is second with 8 and Bertrand is third with 11.

For full results see event website.
Keith Taylor/News Editor
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