The final race of the 2003 Admiral's Cup tomorrow, the long offshore Wolf Rock Race - approximately 400 miles for the big boats, and 300 for the small boats takes place tomorrow

The final race of the 2003 Admiral’s Cup tomorrow, the long offshore Wolf Rock Race – approximately 400 miles for the big boats, and 300 for the small boats – counts for quadruple points, which puts four teams still in with a chance of lifting the Admiral’s Cup.

Although Australia and Spain are separated by just one point at the top of the leader board, you’d have trouble convincing the members of England’s Royal Southern Yacht Club team, back in fourth place, 39 points behind the leaders, that they don’t stand a chance of winning.

Neal McDonald, tactician on board the RSYC big boat, Volvo for Life Team Tonic, is very upbeat about the situation, “you’ve got to look at this race as an opportunity, not only from the quadruple points angle, but the length of the race.

“In a race this long anything can happen to anyone, from torn sails to getting weed on the keel, or a grounding, we look at it that the Australians and Spanish can lose it, this is a great opportunity for us.”

The Australian team, representing the Royal Prince Alfred Yacht Club, are cautiously optimistic, having been the best performing team in the short offshore race earlier this week, they hope a similar performance in this finale will secure the Admiral’s Cup.

Bob Oatley is very excited about the performance of his radical, swing-keeled Wild Oats, and believes it is in this long distance race that the boat will really be able to stretch its legs.

Veteran Australian Admiral’s Cup competitor Peter Shipway is sailing on Wild Oats, he has done this event eight times since 1975, but wasn’t part of the team when Australia last won in 1979.

“I’ve never won one,” he said ruefully, “I’ve seen this movie before, going into the last race close, in ’93 we lost by a quarter of a point when Great News dropped her mast in the Irish sea.

“We’ve got an extraordinarily good team, Colin Beashel is very good, they’re doing a great job on the small boat. For us it’s a learning curve and because we’re out in front we’re sailing against the clock, as long as the tide gates don’t go against us we can win.”

Spain, who have never won the Admiral’s Cup before, have pulled out the big guns for this attempt, with their Team Telefonica Movistar representing the Real Club Nautico de Sangenjo, loaded with international sailing talent.

Eddie Warden Owen is tactician on the King of Spain’s Bribon Telefonica Movistar, and is looking ahead to the confrontation with enthusiasm, “we’re looking forward to sailing against the Australians, it’ll be a good battle.

“It will probably be the weather that decides it in the big boats, so it’s up to Pedro (Campos) in the little boat to hang in there, he’s got some very good guys, Juan Vila his navigator is world class.

“If it is a windward/leeward course we’ll be very competitive, but Wild Oats is very fast on a reach, as we saw in the short offshore race.”

Currently in third place, 21 points behind the Spanish, is Britain’s Sailability Royal Ocean Racing Club Team, headed by Peter Harrison who funded the recent GBR Challenge for the America’s Cup.

Steering their big boat will be Ian Budgen, and he’s ready to give it everything, “we’ve got a big mountain to climb, but it can be done,” he said.

“Obviously with the points weighting of the Wolf Rock race, and the reputation this race has, anything can happen and we’ll be looking to take any chances that there are, we’d like to see some reaching because we think Bribon is good up wind.”

The Wolf Rock race starts off the Royal Yacht Squadron in Cowes, at 3pm on Saturday, with the leading boats expected to take about 48 hours to complete the course.