Light winds hold up early leaders

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After their rollicking exit from the Solent in front of tens of thousands of spectators on Sunday, the eight yachts in the Volvo Ocean Race were on their own, in slow mode, waiting for the next weather system to take them across the Bay of Biscay yesterday.

All the signs were of a heavy knock from a south-westerly coming to their doors and they were spread out as they tried to position themselves for what they hoped would prove to be the best advantage.

Both the leader, Gunnar Krantz in SEB, and the second-placed John Kostecki in illbruck had decided to push on south, where there was temporarily more wind closer to the coast of France, while the rest of the fleet was taking a more westerly option in the hope of being able to pick up the new wind sooner.

Only one mile apart themselves, Krantz and Kostecki had only a three-mile advantage over third-placed Kevin Shoebridge, whose Tyco was best of the western group.

Grant Dalton, who had been able to show the paces of his German Frers Jr designed Amer Sports One in the early stages, was officially in fourth place, equal with Roy Heiner in Assa Abloy. The light airs would not suit Dalton's boat, which has taken a cut in sail area in exchange for an increase in waterline length. Sharing sixth place, just two miles further astern, were Jez Fanstone in News Corp and Knut Frostad in djuice.

But Dalton, who on the eve of the start was named sailing personality of the year in Monaco, has shown what his boat can do in the right conditions.

He had complained that he had chosen too narrow a boat when coming second in the last race. This time he has gone fatter, while the leader, Krantz, has switched the other way from one of the widest boats last time to one of the narrowest. That could have contributed to giving him an early light airs lead. The tactical move is designed to retain it.

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