Sailing: Damage forces return of Ericsson and Brasil 1

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The Independent Online

Damage to keel or internal structure yesterday forced two of the Volvo Race yachts, Sweden's Ericsson and Brasil 1, to turn back after less than 48 hours of the second leg of the race from Cape Town to Melbourne.

A bitterly disappointed Neal McDonald had to pull off the track yesterday, hit for the second time by a breakdown of his keel control system. Brasil 1, skippered by Torben Grael and lying second at the time, reported major cracks extending horizontally across the deck where some of the winches are sited. They were trying to effect temporary repairs while nursing the boat slowly back to the Cape.

All seven yachts had been working upwind, but in about 15 knots of breeze, much less than the 40 knots when two of them, Spain's movistar and the Disney-backed Pirates of the Caribbean, had to pull out of the first leg in the first 24 hours. Ericsson had had to limp to fourth through the final days of the 6,400 miles from Vigo, Spain, to Cape Town. Just 36 hours into the second leg, a strut broke, leaving McDonald reluctantly to take the safe decision to return to South Africa for repairs.

Movistar, which has taken a much different, northerly course since starting on Monday, continues to lead but Paul Cayard's Pirates heads the remaining quartet who have dug much further south, giving up more than 50 miles despite being slowed by a ridge of light airs separating them from the big westerly winds which will carry them to Australia. Third was Mike Sanderson in ABN Amro 1, ahead of ABN 2 and the Australians.

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