SAILING; Christie aiming to make waves

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The Independent Online
LINFORD CHRISTIE will be hoping to break a different type of record today when he steps aboard a round-the-world racing yacht seeking to set a new fastest time for sailing round the Isle of Wight.

Christie, the former Olympic, Commonwealth, European and world sprint champion, will be part of a crew of more than 20 on the 64ft Hoya which, as Silk Cut, was the British boat in the 1997/8 Whitbread Race.

The time he will be trying to beat this time will be 5hrs 12min 3sec set by another Hoya-sponsored yacht, the 84ft Longobarda, in 1996.

On board that day was Christie's skipper today, Eddie Warden Owen, and both will be pleased if they can cheat the weather and threaten the record. Warm, sunny, easterly breezes should make for a superb day's sailing.

But more puff will be needed if not just records are to be broken but the 1,508 entries are not to struggle to complete the 50.2 nautical miles before darkness falls.

First boats do not start until 08.30 and the last class leaves the line off Cowes at 10.30. The combined crew list is expected to top 10,000 but they may not all make it.

That wise old head Dick Emuss of the Royal Corinthian Yacht Club was prepared to bet the race would be shortened at Bembridge.

Top prize, which is awarded to the fastest monohull once its time has been corrected on handicap, is the Gold Roman Bowl. And chasing their own record of 3hr 55min 28sec, set in 1986, will be 61 multihulls.

The catamarans and trimarans compete against each other and among the entries this year are the former Olympic coach Rod Carr and, in a wingsail craft which he hopes to take round the world, the quadriplegic Trevor Jones.