Sailing: Broken mast robs Dalton of lead: Skipper's worst fears realised as NZ Endeavour feels force of the Southern Ocean

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The Independent Online
A BROKEN mast has cost Grant Dalton and New Zealand Endeavour the lead in the second leg of the Whitbread Round the World Race. The top 25 feet of Endeavour's mizzen mast sheared off in the middle of the Southern Ocean, leaving Dalton a 3,000-mile limp to Fremantle and the end of the leg.

It is a nightmare that has constantly haunted Dalton, who lost all of the aft mast on the first leg of the 1989/90 race when skipper of Fisher and Paykel, and he has always referred to the excessive care and nursing he has felt necessary for the mizzen mast.

'We are still racing, still doing 14 knots and we should be able to have the boat sailing at 85 per cent efficiency,' he said yesterday as sails were being re-cut to fit the shorter mast.

But he recognises that the chances of winning this second leg overall probably went with the mast breakage, which happened when the 84- foot yacht was laid flat on its side.

It took less than 24 hours for Lawrie Smith in the Whitbread 60 Intrum Justitia to take the overall lead which Dalton had held from the start in Uruguay 17 days ago. But Smith in any case had been leading the charge again, opting to go further south than his rivals and reaping rich rewards. He is now 59 miles clear of the second W60, Chris Dickson's Tokio, which is 30 miles ahead of Ross Field in Yamaha.

Hotting up is the mid-fleet battle between Italy's Brooksfield and Britain's Dolphin and Youth. They have closed the gap to 24 miles.

Intrum's navigator, Marcel van Triest, said: 'We are now 102 miles south of Tokio and as far as I am concerned the northerly boats are taking a much higher risk than us. We are now in a high pressure system with 18 knots of west nor-west breeze and are continuing further south. There is a big low building up, but it will probably not reach us until we get past the Kerguelen Islands in about three days' time.'

Smith added: 'We are pretty sure we are in a good position for the coming weather patterns. We are doing 12 to 13 knots of boat speed and all is going well. The crew is in high spirits and we intend to hold the current lead for the remaining 3,000 miles of this leg.'

WHITBREAD ROUND THE WORLD RACE Second leg (Punta del Este, Urug, to Fremantle, Aus): Positions, with miles to the finish: Maxi class: 1 New Zealand Endeavour, 2,935; 2 Merit Cup, 3,007; 3 La Poste, 3,090; 4 Uruguay Natural, 3,900.

Whitbread 60s: 1 Intrum Justitia, 2,927; 2 Tokio, 2,986; 3 Yamaha, 3,016; 4 Winston, 3,035; 5 Galicia '93 Pescanova, 3,046; 6 Brooksfield, 3,158; 7 Dolphin and Youth, 3,182; 8 Hetman Sahaidachny, 3,582; 9 Women's Challenge, 3,656; 10 Odessa, 3,858.

Information by BT Results Service.

(Map omitted)