Sailing: Edwards off pace

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The Independent Online
Tracy Edwards yesterday insisted that she had not given up hope of setting a new transatlantic record on the 92-foot catamaran, Royal & Sun Alliance, despite having to slow the boat on its third night at sea to avoid icebergs.

"I had to make a very difficult decision," she said. "We slowed down. The safety of the boat and crew must come above all else."

Even so, Royal & Sun Alliance had covered 1,264 miles in the first 72 hours, at an average speed of 17.5 knots, chasing the record of six days, 13 hours and three minutes set by Serge Madec on Jet Services in 1990, an average of 18.62 knots. However, with 1,700 miles to go, Edwards needs to average 20 knots to beat the record.

Edwards and her nine all-woman crew will need to cross the finish line at the Lizard a few minutes before half past midnight on Sunday morning. Yet by slowing the boat, Edwards has not reached the point planned by Bob Rice, charged with reading the weather and advising on routing. Now they may not be in the best position to take advantage of the weather patterns he recommended.

Also, Edwards reports some additional discomfort caused by water leaking through the centreboard plate and having to sleep fully clothed in wet oilskins. "Everything is damp and freezing," she said.

Shirley Robertson scored a sixth and two firsts to share the lead with Sweden's Cecilia Bengtsson in the single-handed Europe class after the first day of the Kiel Week Regatta. In the Laser class, Ben Ainslie was also sixth in his first race, but did not complete the second before going on to win the third, leaving him 49th overall.