Sailing: Doldrums hold the key for Smith

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The Independent Online
FIVE down, four to go, and the name of the Whitbread game is to catch Paul Cayard as the fleet leave sultry Sao Sebastiao today for the tricky, 4,750-mile sixth leg from Brazil to Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

Cayard, the American skipper of the Swedish boat EF Language, has combined some fast learning, clever navigation, and a strengthening crew to win three legs so far and build a lead of nearly 100 points over Grant Dalton in the Monaco-flagged Merit Cup.

The only reason for a frown on Cayard's brow is the worry that he has been unable to fit a new mast, because the spare was air-freighted to the tip of South America for the team's other boat, the all-woman-crewed EF Education, after they had been dismasted on the approach to Cape Horn.

The women had just three days of respite after motor-sailing the last 1,000 miles and shared with Britain's Lawrie Smith only a short preparation period. Smith was also dismasted on the last leg and was able to restart sailing again only on Wednesday after a new mast had been fitted.

Smith is under pressure to put in some big results, if only to restore the pride and esteem of a team who started as one of the favourites but are seventh overall. He points to the Doldrums as the major hurdle of the leg. "You have to be in the lead after the Doldrums to win," he said.

Dalton, confident that his broken collar-bone is mending sufficiently well to allow him to perform light duties, agrees, but his dilemma is whether to sail more miles to find better wind well offshore, or hug the shorter route up the coast of Brazil.

He wants to attack Cayard, but knows he will have to fight to defend his second place against Gunnar Krantz's Swedish Match and Chessie Racing, which has John Kostecki back as skipper.

Two of the nine boats - Innovation Kvaerner and Toshiba - have decided to sail with 11, instead of the maximum 12 crew.

WHITBREAD ROUND THE WORLD RACE: Standings after five legs: 1 EF Language (Swe) P Cayard 507pts; 2 Merit Cup (Monaco) G Dalton 411; 3 Swedish Match (Swe) G Krantz 404; 4 Chessie Racing (US) J Kostecki 399; 5 Innovation Kvaerner (Nor) K Frostad 372; 6 Toshiba (US) P Standbridge 299; 7 Silk Cut (GB) L Smith 284; 8 Brunel Sunergy (Neth) R Heiner 215; 9 EF Education (Swe) C Guillou 139.

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