Sailing: Cayard's extreme experience

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"The term 'the decks are awash' does not do justice to what is going on here. We really are flying." These were the words of the skipper, Paul Cayard, as EF Language headed a Whitbread Round the World Race fleet mostly making rapid progress through the southern ocean towards Cape Horn.

The slow speeds that made the start of the 6,670-mile fifth leg from New Zealand to Brazil something of a yawn have been replaced by runs averaging almost 18 knots.

Cayard is a comparative novice in the southern ocean, but that has not stopped the 38-year-old American churning out the miles - 430.1 in a 24- hour spell yesterday, just 19 miles short of the monohull record set by Britain's Silk Cut on the second leg.

"This is the most extreme thing I've ever done and is the best sailing experience I've ever had," said Cayard, who is being hard pressed by Silk Cut and Swedish Match. "I have had better races, closer racing, etc, but this cannot be compared to anything else."

Grant Dalton was uncomfortable on the fifth-placed Merit Cup. "Everything is now wet. Sails are full of water, sleeping bags, clothes, the lot, and the forecast indicates it's really going to blow like hell."

The all-female backmarker, EF Education, is only making 8-10 knots as she limps towards South America - still two weeks away - where she hopes to her damaged rig at Ushuaia in Argentina.

WHITBREAD ROUND THE WORLD RACE (fifth leg, 6,670 miles, Auckland, NZ, to Sao Sebastiao, Bra): 1 EF Language (Swe) P Cayard 4,750 miles to finish; 2 Silk Cut (GB) L Smith 7 miles behind; 3 Swedish Match (Swe) G Krantz +9; 4 Toshiba (US) P Standbridge +25; 5 Merit Cup (Monaco) G Dalton +36; 6 Chessie Racing (US) D Smith +45; 7 Innovation Kvaerner (Nor) K Frostad +105; 8 Brunel Sunergy (Neth) R Heiner +162; 9 EF Education (Swe) C Guillou +394.