Sailing: Humphries holds the edge over his old rival

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The Independent Online

The needle match between round-the-world skipper Matt Humphries and his former manager, Sweden's Gunnar Krantz, was running at full intensity in the 340-mile Round Gotland Race. As the name suggests, the race goes round the Swedish island of Gotland, and is the penultimate race in the six-event series that makes up the Volvo Baltic Race.

As darkness did not fall - the Swedish midsummer night barely changes to twilight - the two rivals were neck and neck, heading south from Sandhamn in an eight-knot easterly. This is a must-win for Krantz if he is to have any chance of snatching the series, while Humphries could deal what should be a mortal blow if he can keep his bow in front.

Humphries holds a slender 1.5-point lead in Challenge Gant, the former NewsCorp, over RS, Krantz's new backer for what was SEB. But Krantz is not on board RS. He has, instead, left the job to his co-skipper, Erle Williams of New Zealand, who has a a number of Kiwis in his core crew.

No one says anything outright, but there is clear disappointment that Krantz, who is in close attendance ashore, has failed to step up to the plate on the race course. Krantz says he does not want to upset a very successful unit led by Williams, but that is treated with obvious disdain.

Humphries has his own bit of Kiwi magic in helmsman Cameron Appleton and a sharp tactician in the American Tony Rey.