Challengers short of wind

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The Independent Online
SAILING : With the timetable slipping further and further behind, Pat Healy, the race director, decided to go ahead with starts for the Louis Vuitton Cup challengers in what is only the third race of the second round robin of America's Cup trials off SanDiego yesterday.

Although there was less than five knots of wind, he needs to compete the six races with time to spare to allow modifications to the yachts before the start of the next series on 14 February.

On the Citizen Cup course, the defenders, Pact'95 and Team Dennis Conner, abandoned attenpts and went home. They have the option, if all three syndicates, including America3, agree, to drop the last set of three races in this series.

With no guarantee that the wind would hold, Chris Dickson's Tag Heuer was comfortably leading Syd Fischer's Sydney '95, Russell Coutts put Team New Zealand ahead of John Bertrand's oneAustralia, and Marc Pajot's France3 was heading for its first win overJohn Cutler, steering Nippon Challenge.

n Battling fierce headwinds and wild seas, the solo sailor Jean Luc Van den Heede snatched the lead from his fellow Frenchman Christophe Auguin yesterday, four days into the third leg of the BOC round-the-world race. Van den Heede passed Auguin, the defending champion, by turning in a fleet-best 180-mile run against 40-knot winds.