Sailing: Cayard strikes out as fleet close in on Cape Horn

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The Independent Online
It was all going to plan for Paul Cayard and his crew on EF Language as they increased their lead on the fifth leg of the Whitbread Round the World Race, opening a gap of 56 miles on the second-placed Swedish Match.

The American skipper wants to build as big a lead as possible, because he believes the fleet will compress dramatically once they round Cape Horn, possibly later today.

"It is easier to be in control when you are at the front," Cayard said yesterday. "I believe the race will restart at the Horn. This is a very long and tricky race, hundreds of miles can be won and lost going up the coast of South America."

After 13 days at sea since leaving Auckland on the 6,670 mile, fifth leg to Brazil, the fleet are eager to escape the southern ocean. However, they know that the winds off the coast of Argentina are as fickle as they are ferocious before the Horn.

"It also looks like the leaders will get some headwinds or at least lighter winds in the vicinity of the Horn," Roy Heiner, the skipper of sixth-placed Brunel Sunergy, said, "so the present stretching will stop, and compress the field again."

This is making a number of skippers reassess the way they approach the Horn. Grant Dalton has decided to take Merit Cup, currently fourth, further south. "We are heading where there's more breeze, otherwise we will be in big trouble."

WHITBREAD ROUND THE WORLD RACE (fifth leg, 6,670 miles, Auckland, NZ, to Sao Sebastiao, Bra): 1 EF Language (Swe) P Cayard 2,861 miles to finish; 2 Swedish Match (Swe) G Krantz 56 miles behind; 3 Toshiba (US) P Standbridge +112; 4 Merit Cup (Monaco) G Dalton +131; 5 Innovation Kvaerner (Nor) K Frostad +140; 6 Brunel Sunergy (Neth) R Heiner +230; 7 Chessie Racing (US) D Smith +240; 8 Silk Cut (GB) L Smith +624; 9 EF Education (Swe) C Guillou +1,226.