Davies' chess match keeps Vendée alive

The Frenchman Armel Le Cléac'h looked set to finish his first Vendée Globe solo non-stop, round-the-world race in second place this morning.

He was making 10 knots yesterday with less than 260 miles to go to Les Sables d'Olonne where he will step on to dry land almost six days behind the winner Michel Desjoyeaux. In 2005 the winning margin was six hours.

In Le Cléac'h's wake, 550 miles south of the Azores, the chess match between Marc Guillemot (Safran) and Sam Davies (Roxy) remained as engaging as ever. Guillemot has not yet picked up any significant speed advantage over the British woman. Indeed, Davies' lead yesterday morning was still 282 miles.

Davies' fellow Briton, Brian Thompson (Pindar), is now a very respectable 143.7 miles behind Guillemot in terms of distance to finish. Thompson is continually having to throttle back in the bouncy seas to preserve his damaged keel and is frustrated by ceding miles to another British boat, Dee Caffari's Aviva, due to his inability to sail at anything close to 100 per cent.

In Auckland, a defeat in the first race followed by a collision, penalty and retirement from the second has made for a dismal start for Britain's America's Cup challenger Team Origin to the second stage of the Louis Vuitton Pacific Series.

As skipper Ben Ainslie tried to wriggle out of being pinned on the start line, Russell Coutts' BMW Oracle clipped Origin's stern. Coutts was penalised on the water and the umpires imposed another one-point scoring penalty and docked Origin half a point for contributory culpability.

The British lodged a protest, but a jury upheld the decisions made by the umpires and confirmed the penalties.

The other British skipper in the event, world match racing champion Ian Williams, scored a second win in two races and secured, from the silver fleet, a chance to fight again for the China Team.

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