Sailing: Dalton ducks unhappy Dickson

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It went down to the wire, a marvellous match race at midnight, as Grant Dalton, with the bigger, faster boat, put everything he knew into overhauling Chris Dickson, the master tactician, writes Stuart Alexander from Auckland. It was less than two miles from the finish of the 3,272-mile third leg of the Whitbread Round-the World Race from Fremantle before Dalton put the bow of the 84-foot New Zealand Endeavour ahead of the 64-foot Tokio. At the finish the margin was two minutes 12 seconds. It was all Dalton had worked for, the fulfilment of a burning desire that has driven him through two campaigns as skipper. 'It was the race of our lives,' he said. But the moral victory was Dickson's and he was openly contemptuous of Dalton's performance. Race rules forbid him from using his biggest spinnakers. His overall lead for the three legs is still 3hr 6min 16sec and in the Whitbread 60 class he is now over 14 hours ahead of his nearest rival, Dennis Conner. Having lost his early lead, he fought an equally fierce battle before steering Winston to second place in the W60 class, over two and a half hours behind Dickson but little more than 10 minutes ahead of another Kiwi, Ross Field, in Yamaha. The second maxi, La Poste, skippered by Eric Tabarly, pipped the fourth 60, Javier de la Gandara's Galicia by just 12 seconds.

(Photograph omitted)