Sailing: Cayard reinforces Dalton's challenge

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The Independent Online

Paul Cayard, the winner of the 1997-98 Whitbread, steps back into round the world ocean racing next week when he joins Grant Dalton on Amer Sports One for the fourth leg of the Volvo Ocean Race.

The man who has been shunted to the sidelines by Larry Ellison, the billionaire boss of the Oracle Racing America's Cup syndicate, has been fretting at home in San Francisco as the New Zealander Chris Dickson has taken the helm of the boats which, as AmericaOne, Cayard skippered out of Auckland's Viaduct Basin for the 2000 Louis Vuitton Cup.

His fellow Californian Dee Smith, who has been acting as watch leader and, more lately, tactician, on Amer Sports One returned home for surgery yesterday on a damaged right shoulder. Smith will fly back to Auckland this weekend to hand over the job and brief Cayard before taking up to six weeks fully to recover.

"It was always logical that he would come to us as he is a non-executive director of Nautor's Swan, the yacht-builder behind our entry," said Dalton. "He brings strength in every area and a real shot in the arm."

Cayard's appointment is for the hard, 6,700-mile battle with the Southern Ocean gales and big seas round Cape Horn and then the tricky ride up the coast of South America to Rio de Janeiro. At the moment there are no plans for Cayard to join the boat for any of the later legs, though Dalton did not rule out that option.

"I'm really looking forward to sailing with Grant and his team," Cayard said. "Leg 4 has it all. You start in pouring rain, sail through gales, 30-foot waves and ice, and finish in extreme heat."

Dalton's sistership, Amer Sports Too, confirmed that Emma Richards and Miranda Merron will be joining the crew for the fourth leg. The British duo have sailed together on many two-handed races, and Merron will take over as navigator from the departing Genevieve White. Richards will be a helmsman and trimmer. Carolijn Brouwer returns, as planned, to replace Melissa Purdy.

The merry-go-round continues on Gunnar Krantz's SEB following the departure of Matt Humphries as a watch captain. David Rolfe, who left a similar post after the second leg from Cape Town to Sydney, returns, suggesting his discomfort was more with Humphries than Krantz. Also joining the crew is Anthony Merrington, who had spent pre-race winter training in Portugal with SEB.

Neither is named as a watch captain and a 12th man has yet to be announced. He is likely to be a specialist helmsman, as is the replacement for Chris Larson that Neal McDonald has been seeking for Assa Abloy.

Knut Frostad is also expected to name changes to the crew of djuice today as he struggles to maintain morale and bring new impetus to a disappointing Norwegian challenge.

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