Sailing: Cayard wary of potholes

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The Independent Online
A game of chess is developing among the three leading boats in the Whitbread Round the World Race. Innovation Kvaerner, skippered by Knut Frostad, was still ahead of EF Language (Paul Cayard) and Merit Cup (Grant Dalton) as they headed for the Canary Islands.

However, as the 10-boat fleet, spread across nearly 300 miles, progressed south-westwards in a light northerly wind 700 miles west of Morocco, a phlegmatic Cayard had time to reflect on the race so far.

"It is a pretty neat chess game for us," he said. "But we had a bad day, got on the wrong side of some squalls and had to put jibs up twice to get out of them. There's still a long way to go, probably a few more potholes in the road for everyone."

Frostad, still 15 miles to the good over Cayard, is hanging on in front. But the boats are expected to bunch up over the next few days of the first leg to Cape Town, and there is still hope of improvement for the fourth and fifth-placed rivals Silk Cut, skippered by Lawrie Smith for Britain, and Mark Fischer, in charge on America's Chessie Racing.

"It is evident that from now on it's going to be more wind for the guys behind and we will slowly sail into less and less pressure," Frostad said.

The race had its first real taste of heavy seas over the weekend. A week after its chaotic start in the Solent, the race was finally starting to look like the fast and furious dash around the globe it was hyped up to be.

"Sleeping has been difficult with the motion of the boat at high speed, and the rudder humming at high pitch," Grant Spanhake, on Cheesie Racing, said. "The closest analogy would be to picture yourself in the back car of a roller-coaster ride on a curvy track. Try living there for three weeks soaking wet, but what fun."

WHITBREAD ROUND THE WORLD RACE (First leg, 7,350 miles Southampton to Cape Town): 1 Innovation Kvaerner (Nor) Knut Frostad 5,770.29 miles to finish; 2 EF Language (Swe) Paul Cayard +15.5 miles, 18; 3 Merit Cup (Monaco) Grant Dalton +18.6; 4 Silk Cut (GB) Lawrie Smith +49.79; 5 Chessie Racing (US) Jim Allsopp +56.0; 6 Toshiba (US) Chris Dickson _104.6; 7 America's Challenge (US) Ross Field +206.7; 8 Swedish Match (Swe) Gunnar Krantz +207.8; 9 Brunel Sunergy (Neth) Hans Bouscholte +251.8; 10 EF Education (Swe) Christine Guillou +280.0.