Sailing: Humphries' horror story

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The Independent Online

Matt Humphries and the crew of the Vo 60 Challenge Gant (formerly NewsCorp) suffered a frustrating time in the Round Gotland Race yesterday.

As they approached the right turn at the bottom of the Baltic island, far from vying for the lead, they were fighting to avoid being pushed into third place as Thomas Blixt lined up Sony Ericsson for an attack.

Humphries had the inside track, but Blixt's crew was very prepared. Challenge Gant's new headsail was slow to go up, there was a scramble to drop the spinnaker, and when the headsail was raised it flapped uselessly because no one had attached the control sheet rope to the trailing bottom corner.

The second mistake came at the day's second turning mark as the control ropes wound into a knotted frenzy. Through went Blixt again, but that problem was sorted before Humphries started on the overnight, 100-mile beat to the finish into a stiff, 25-knot north-easterly and a bruisingly bumpy Baltic.