Golding graces the light airs

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The Independent Online
Mike Golding had to coax Group 4 through light airs over the 40 miles to the finish as he led the BT Challenge fleet towards the first stopover in Rio de Janeiro last night, writes Stuart Alexander.

Still 39 miles behind him, though sometimes making better speed, was Simon Walker in Toshiba, and he had a 27-mile lead over Chris Tibbs in Concert. However, it could be three and a half days before the last of the 14 boats, James Hatfield's predominantly disabled crew in Time & Tide, arrives.

Closest are the fourth and fifth boats, Andy Hindley in Save the Children and Richard Merriweather in Commercial Union, just two miles apart with all to play for in the fickle night winds which affect the Brazilian coast.

Both crews had to switch from trading downwind tactics under spinnaker to sailing hard on the wind, but it is the way either boat is affected by the light airs that will decide which one crosses the line first.

As the first yachts in the Hong Kong Challenge arrived in Southampton last night, stopping over before completing the leg from London to Lisbon, the eight 60ft yachts in Sir Robin Knox-Johnston's Clipper '96 race left Madeira for their second-leg run across the Atlantic to Fort Lauderdale.