Sailing: Shoebridge may lose points over safety call

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The Independent Online

As Neal McDonald quietly celebrated eight valuable points for a leg win on Assa Abloy and Grant Dalton (Amer Sports One) safely banked seven for a second, the satisfaction of an exciting and hard-won third was being undermined for Kevin Shoebridge (Team Tyco).

News Corp had made a formal application to an international jury that Shoebridge be stripped of five of the six points he had won. The grounds were failure to make a mandatory safety call in the Sydney to Hobart Race from which he was therefore disqualified.

Under even greater pressure was Knut Frostad, sixth in djuice and knowing that in his native Norway he was being held responsible for "the shame of the nation". His campaign attracted the highest sports sponsorship budget in Norway's history.

The arrival of most of the boats in Auckland at the end of the 2,050-mile third leg from Sydney co-incided with a torrential early morning downpour, but afterwards the sun shone on crews relaxing after an intense eight-and-a-half days at sea. The all-woman crew of Amer Sports Too are not expected to finish until Monday after suffering a damaged rudder.

The fleet set out again on 27 January, heading back into the depths of the Southern Ocean before rounding Cape Horn and racing up to Rio de Janeiro.

With six legs left in total, a top four have already emerged, with John Kostecki in illbruck still the man to beat. Dalton considers himself lucky to be second overall and just one point separates the two British skippers, Jez Fanstone, in News Corp, and McDonald.