Sailing: Cash threat to Dolphin project

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THE Dolphin Project for disabled people, which will mount Britain's only new-boat challenge in the 1993-94 Whitbread Round the World race, starting in September, is beset by financial problems that are becoming acute. According to David Dainton, the project's business affairs' manager, fund-raising up until now has been 'bloody awful'. He added: 'UK Incorporated has not been very helpful.'

Although their Rob Humphreys- designed 60ft boat has been built, mainly out of funds from the football pools-backed Foundation for Sport and the Arts, there is no money in the Dolphin Project kitty to fund the pounds 1.5m campaign costs for the nine-month, 32,000-mile race. At least pounds 750,000 would be needed for an austerity campaign.

Today the yacht will sail from the Hamble to Ireland, to take part in the Dublin Boat Show and begin some long-term fund raising, but Dainton admitted yesterday that without a substantial contribution it could not take part in the race. The 12 crew had been laid off for a while as a break before the long sail, but earlier plans to take the yacht to the United States as part of the training programme have been shelved.

'If we do not get the money that would be a terrible indictment of the British public and British companies,' Dainton said. 'I'm totally amazed that the only British yacht in the race has had no one come near it.'

In two other very different round the world attempts tactics are becoming all-important. Peter Blake and Robin Knox-Johnston in the 85ft catamaran, Enza New Zealand, have decided to push a little further south in their bid to circle the world in 80 days and win the French-sponsored Jules Verne Trophy.

They are still comfortably within schedule, but know that their French rival, Commodore Explorer, skippered by Bruno Peyron, is proving to be a slightly faster boat. Enza has averaged 14.18 knots for the first 23 days over a distance of 7,826 miles.

In the British Steel Challenge, Adrian Donovan, in Heath Insured, has slipped from first to seventh, with the improving Richard Tudor in British Steel II moving up to sixth. Donovan hopes that his position as the most northerly boat will pay off if the wind settles for any length of time in the west.

BRITISH STEEL CHALLENGE: Second leg (Hobart to Cape Town): Positions, with miles to the finish: 1 Group 4 3,728; 2 Nuclear Electric 3,752; 3 Commercial Union 3,756; 4 Rhone-Poulenc 3,763; 5 Hofbrau 3,774; 6 British Steel II 3,783; 7 Heath Insured 3,794; 8 Coopers & Lybrand 3,796; 9 Interspray 3,803; 10 Pride of Teesside 3,819. Information supplied by BT.

The finals of the national match racing championships will be held in Pwllheli, Wales, in early October. Automaticaly seeded will be last year's winner, Andy Beadsworth, and the three highest- placed British yachtsman in the International Yacht Racing Union rankings. They will be joined by the winners of six regional heats.