Sailing: Dalton turns to Bekking as co-skipper

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The Independent Online
Grant Dalton is to bring in the Dutchman Bouwe Bekking for the next leg of the Whitbread Round-the-world race to replace his Italian co-skipper, Guido Maisto.

Bekking, who was a watch leader on Dennis Conner's Winston in the last race, is a top figure on the Admiral's Cup, world inshore and Mumm 36 circuits. He is expected, also, to do the transatlantic eighth leg from Baltimore to La Rochelle. His appointment signifies a modification to Dalton's strategy as Bekking will alternate with Tom Dodson.

One of the tactical brains behind New Zealand's America's Cup win in 1995, Dodson will do leg six from Brazil to Fort Lauderdale, leg seven to Baltimore, and the last leg, the finishing sprint to Southampton.

Maisto has had to pull out of the team while he returns to Italy for medical attention to a persistent skin complaint on his right arm and hand. He may yet rejoin the boat, but, in the meantime, will continue to work for the syndicate in Turin.

One of Bekking's rivals in the Mumm 36s, the American Dee Smith, was yesterday confirmed as the co-skipper of Chessie Racing for the fifth leg. Smith was on board for the other southern ocean leg, from Capetown to Fremantle, since when the boat's fortunes have been improving.

The New Zealand helmsman Gavin Brady is staying with George Collins' team, while John Kostecki, who has already been nominated as skipper of Willi Illbruck's German entry for what will be the 2001 Volvo Race, will be returning to Chessie for the later legs this time.