Sport on the Internet: Sailing the world on the web

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The Independent Online
For the ultimate armchair adventurer, there is a web site devoted to the Whitbread Round The World Yacht Race. There are actually people who pay to go on trips like this, but now, for virtually free, you can follow the progress of all 10 competitors on a daily basis.

The leader board shows which boat is in the lead (currently the Norwegian entry, Innovation Kvaerner), its position (just past the Cape Verde Islands) and the relative positions of the other yachts.

I'm a trifle worried that Chessie Racing seems to be amphibious as its plotted path takes it right over the middle of one of the islands. This could prove a useful attribute for the odd short-cut later on.

Some aspects of the site are still under construction, including an active race viewer, a virtual yacht-racing game and a chronicle which promises video and audio links.

There are diagrams of each leg with the tactics likely to be employed, information on the race rules, the scoring system, handicaps and ratings and details of the W60 yachts, which are being sailed by all the competitors. There are also pieces on all the teams and crews.

Several of the competitors have their own site. America's Challenge's site has a brief history of the previous six Whitbread races, diagrams and technical specifications of their boat, pen-pictures of all its crew plus the facility, should you wish, to e-mail any of them.

The Dutch boat Brunel Sunergy have a site o which they're getting philosophical - probably because they're almost last.

Weather buffs can also have a good time with links to various meteorological sites. The European Centre for Medium Range Weather Forecasts is for those who can't get enough of Michael Fish and friends, with charts for six days ahead for the Northern and Southern hemispheres. ADDRESSES Official Whitbread site http://www.whitbread.org

Individual boats America's Challenge: http://americaschallenge. sgi.com/index.html Brunel Sunergy: http://www.brunelsunergy. nl/ Kvaerner Innovation: http://innovation.kvaerner. sol.no/no/ Living Classrooms: http://www.livingclassrooms.org/whitbread/ indexpage.html EF Teams: http://www.teamef.org

Weather reports ECMWF: http://www.ecmwf.int/ Dutch Weather Bureau: http://www.knmi.nl/ indexen.html

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