Sailing: Dickson in dock for criticism: Whitbread skipper withdraws verbal attack on winner

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CHRIS DICKSON apologised yesterday as the New Zealand public reacted angrily to his criticism of his fellow Kiwi and the Whitbread Race third-leg winner, Grant Dalton.

Dickson said he regretted 'any apparent bad feeling' over the result, which saw his Whitbread 60 lose to Dalton's maxi by two minutes 12 seconds, and, having said that Dalton and his crew had made a mess of the last 200 miles and sailed badly, said on television they got it 100 per cent right.

'I woke up with a very bad feeling in my stomach,' he said. 'I thought, hey, I said some stupid things.'

So he telephoned an apology to Dalton, repeated it in writing, on radio and television, and Dalton said he accepted it at face value.

Dickson needs to mend a tattered image as he seeks funding for his Tutukaka America's Cup campaign, which will rival the establishment-backed Team New Zealand, headed by Peter Blake and skippered by Russell Coutts.

Dickson has lodged a protest that Dennis Conner's Winston is using an illegal type of stainless steel in the mast fittings, but has not pursued a similar complaint against Lawrie Smith's Intrum Justitia. The jury will first consider requests to reassess the compensation time awarded to Winston for her part in the Brooksfield rescue on the second leg.

Smith flies home today for treatment to badly inflamed ligaments in his left foot. He should be fit to start the fourth leg on 20 February.

The 12th finisher, the Ukraine's Hetman Sahaidachny, came into Auckland last night, broke but saying 'we will probably continue anyway'.