Sailing: Wharington set for fiery baptism

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The Independent Online

"Wharro" has been beset with hitches as his 70-foot Premier Challenge, now renamed Sunergy and friends, has seen crew and boat builders swarming all over the boat. As the other boats made their way from Sanxenxo to the start village here, the official measurers were standing by to see if a certificate could be issued.

Wharington was adamant that he would be on the start line for the first leg to Cape Town at 2.00pm today. But there will have been no time for detailed checks and his crew have not sailed the boat together. Forecasts are for a baptism of fire in fast and furious conditions.

There were problems, too, for Mike Golding who, with co-skipper Dominique Wavre, had slipped to more than 100 miles behind the leader of the Transat Jacques Vabre from Le Havre to Brazil, Jean-Pierre Dick. He hit some of the wreckage of the capsized trimaran Groupama II, breaking the bottom third of his starboard rudder.

Dick, racing with Loïck Peyron, could not shake off Ellen MacArthur. She had to recover from the yacht being flattened by a 40mph gust overnight. Teamed with Roland Jourdain, she has been matching Dick's speed for over two days and has a 30-mile deficit.

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