Lone yachtswoman has burden of proof

A round-the-world sailor is yet to provide details to verify her record. Ian MacKinnon reports
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The Independent Online
The lone British yachtswoman, Lisa Clayton, yesterday said she had all the details necessary to prove her circumnavigation after a challenge by the body that ratifies the records.

The World Sailing Speed Record Council two weeks ago asked for further evidence of her 31,000-mile trip, saying it was unable formally to verify she is the first woman to sail single-handed, non-stop, unassisted round- the-world from the northern hemisphere.

Ms Clayton, 36, who completed her 286-day voyage five weeks ago, has not yet supplied the extra information or even acknowledged the request made in a letter.

The council was yesterday attempting to play down any rift and maintained that no one had any doubt that the former travel consultant from Birmingham had completed the journey. However, among the yachting fraternity there was surprise that Ms Clayton had failed to file the information.

John Reid, the council's secretary, asked for details of her route between starting and finishing at Dartmouth, along with accompanying timings, land sightings and contacts between her 39-ft Spirit of Birmingham and other ships.

She has further been requested to show that it was unaided, with a demand for details of damage sustained and how the repairs were made, with details of the amount of fresh water taken on and how much was left, or any machinery capable of producing water.

A spokesman for the council said: "There is no problem. No one is disbelieving of her. It is a fantastic achievement and she deserves all credit for it. The council is champing at the bit to ratify this record."

However, he added that other round-the-world sailors had provided such information daily. Ms Clayton, though, communicated with friends and family and her support team in Birmingham by satellite and fax.

She and her project manager, Peter Harding, now face processing reams of faxes showing satellite locations and the computer data the council requires.

Ms Clayton said: "I am absolutely confident that we can provide all the proof that is needed. I haven't been worrying about it but I just want to clear it up." But she also added that she felt the difficulties had arisen because she was an outsider who was not a member of yachting establishment.

But another round-the-world sailor, Robin Knox-Johnston, was surprised that there had been a delay over verification.

"If she wants the record she has to hand the information over to the scrutineers and frankly I'm surprised she hasn't done so yet," he said.

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