Sailing: Dalton holds narrow edge heading into the Channel

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The Independent Online

Turning the corner and putting the accelerator down for a roller-coaster ride up the English Channel, the Volvo Ocean fleet was in tight formation last night on the eighth, penultimate, leg from La Rochelle to Gothenburg.

Turning the corner and putting the accelerator down for a roller-coaster ride up the English Channel, the Volvo Ocean fleet was in tight formation last night on the eighth, penultimate, leg from La Rochelle to Gothenburg.

The trip up the northern section of the Bay of Biscay was made physical by a stiff westerly breeze. Leading, by a slender two miles, was Grant Dalton in Amer Sports One but, with the leaders averaging nearly 20 knots and the top six separated by only three miles, the choice of route up the tide-bedevilled Channel was the basis for establishing some sort of advantage ahead of the North Sea run.

At Medemblik Britain was top nation in the Spa Olympic Regatta while the Netherlands took medals in six classes. Iain Percy, with Steve Mitchell in the Star class and Nick Dempsey in the Mistral windsurfer both took gold, where Dom Tidey was also third. Silvers went to Ed Wright in the Laser and Natasha Sturges in the Mistral while the second bronze wen to Chris Draper and Simon Hiscocks in the 49er.

Back on the ocean courses, Ellen MacArthur finally managed to start the Course des Phares from Calais as navigator for Alain Gautier on the 60-foot trimaran Foncia. The fleet of 10 had been delayed for a week by stormy weather. Meanwhile, her Open 60, Kingfisher, in the hands of Nick Moloney and crew, took a major knock on the Rubicon Race while negotiating the Straits of Gibraltar and fell back to fifth place. Bernard Stamm, in Bobst, took over the lead from Roland Jourdain in Sill.

VOLVO OCEAN RACE: Leg 8; Positions, with miles to the finish; 1. Amer Sports One (G Dalton) 837; 2= illbruck (J Kostecki), Tyco (K Shoebridge) 839; 4= SEB (G Krantz), Assa Abloy (N McDonald), News Corp (J Fanstone) 840; 7 djuice (K Frostad) 843; 8 Amer Sports Too (L McDonald) 876.

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