Golding sets sail for Rio honours

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The Independent Online
As the leaders crossed the Equator yesterday, leaving the doldrums behind them, and headed into the southern Atlantic, Mike Golding's Group 4 extended its lead to 57 miles in the BT Challenge for amateur crews, writes Stuart Alexander.

Second-placed Simon Walker in Toshiba has pulled out a 45-mile gap over Chris Tibbs, who lies third in Concert.

Few of the yachts were seriously slowed by the moving area of calming winds, and the first arrival in Rio de Janeiro at the end of the first leg from Southampton is now expected on 25 October, four days ahead of schedule.

Group 4 is 563 miles in front of the last yacht, and this could translate into a 60-hour spread for all the 14 identical 67-footers to cross the finish line, depending on how fickle the breezes are when they reach the South American coast.

Suffering a little from the slows was James Hatfield's largely disabled crew on Time & Tide. Their advantage over the last-placed Boris Webber in Courtaulds has been cut to eight miles. Time & Tide has already decided to release one crew member, who is suffering from chronic sea-sickness, when they berth in Rio. He is expected to rejoin the yacht in Cape Town after the two Southern Ocean legs.

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