Sailing: Hellomoto next to be coaxed over line

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The Independent Online

The epic which has been Conrad Humphreys' solo race round the world should be over by breakfast today when, in his 60-foot Hellomoto, he crosses the finish line of the Vendée Globe event in Les Sables d'Olonne. Unable to start the engine to recharge his batteries and nursing a damaged keel, he was looking forward yesterday to arriving a remarkable seventh of the original 20 starters to finish.

The epic which has been Conrad Humphreys' solo race round the world should be over by breakfast today when, in his 60-foot Hellomoto, he crosses the finish line of the Vendée Globe event in Les Sables d'Olonne. Unable to start the engine to recharge his batteries and nursing a damaged keel, he was looking forward yesterday to arriving a remarkable seventh of the original 20 starters to finish.

Earlier in the race he had to turn back to Cape Town, lose eight days replacing, without assistance, a damaged rudder and restart last. He was holding a 45-mile advantage over the eighth-placed Joe Seeten and, despite backing off in the choppy sea, was confident he could hold on.

"I'm sailing very carefully, very steadily, as the keel is still moving around quite a bit," he said. "It's been an education, but, absolutely, it was worth it." The 32-year-old from Plymouth added: "I think I've proved a few things along the way, so my focus now will be on a British win in 2008."

Britain's Olympic gold medallist Iain Percy with his crew Steve Mitchell won the last two races of the Star class world championship in Buenos Aires to secure bronze as Xavier Rohart and Pascal Rambeau of France won their second title in three years, ahead of the pairing from Brazil of Torben Grael and Marcelo Ferreira.

Elsewhere, with another 640-mile day under his belt, Bruno Peyron, back in the western hemisphere, was powering his 120-foot catamaran Orange II towards Cape Horn with nearly four days in hand as he attacks the outright record of 58 days and nine hours for sailing round the world set by Steve Fossett in Cheyenne last year.

In the Oryx Quest race for maxi-multihulls, Olivier de Kersauson was aiming his 120-foot trimaran Geronimo to the coast of Western Australia, 2,000 miles away, to repair a split in the crossbeam. The beam attaches the outer, starboard, float to the main hull. Britain's Brian Thompson still leads the field in Doha 2006.

Sweden's Victory Challenge has entered the America's Cup, becoming the eighth contender.

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