Sailing: Enza makes light of heavy seas

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The Independent Online
PETER BLAKE and Robin Knox- Johnston, co-skippers of the 85ft catamaran, Enza, could afford to feel confident yesterday despite being in waves described by Knox- Johnston as 'liquid Himalayas'.

On the 18th day of their attempt to win the Jules Verne Trophy for sailing round the world in 80 days they covered another 390 miles at an average speed of 16.25 knots. Enza has been achieving speeds of over 30 knots. 'We had a hull right out in a big beam sea and were flying,' Blake said. 'But it was pitch black and we took the foot off the accelerator before we did a whoopsie.'

Their French rival for the trophy, Bruno Peyron, almost 200 miles ahead in Commodore Explorer, was forced to drop all sails and head back north while assessing damage suffered in 60- 70 knot winds.

Another Frenchman, Olivier de Kersauson, who started six days earlier and is operating outside the Jules Verne rules by receiving weather routing advice, has damaged the starboard hull of his 89ft trimaran, Charal, and is believed to be nursing it to Cape Town for repairs. In a telex back to base, de Kersauson said: 'We are up to our necks in it since yesterday afternoon - 50-knot winds - I mean really up to our necks. The entire bottom part of the starboard hull below the waterline is gone. We are handicapped by rough sea and the fact that we don't dare go out into the netting between the hulls. Some waves are 25 feet high. On this cheerful note we bid you farewell until tomorrow.'

Alain Gautier, in Bagages Superior, now leads Philippe Poupon, in Fleury Michon, by 342 miles in the Vendee Globe single- handed, non-stop round the world race with Jean-Luc van den Heede, in G Sofap Helvim, slipping from 11 to 197 miles further astern. All three are on the last 5,000 miles up the South Atlantic and are expected at the Les Sables d'Olonne finish, during the first week of March.

John Chittenden, in Nuclear Electric, has regained the lead on the third leg of the British Steel Challenge. With a change of weather there has been a re-shuffle of positions, except for the last two, with Richard Tudor moving up to seventh place, 29 miles behind the leader.

BRITISH STEEL CHALLENGE: Third leg (Hobart to Cape Town): Positions (with miles to the finish as estimated by BT): 1 Nuclear Electric 4,631; 2= Group 4 and Rhone-Poulenc 4,635; 4 Heath Insured 4,640; 5 Commercial Union 4,642; 6 Coopers & Lybrand 4,657; 7 British Steel II 4,660; 8 Hofbrau 4,663; 9 Pride of Teesside 4,672; 10 Interspray, 4,693.

A feeder race for the 1994-95 BOC single-handed round the world race will take place on 3 July next year, from Falmouth to Charleston, South Carolina will form part of a world championship series. There will be a fully- crewed return race in 1995 and spokesman Nigel Rowe also said the start and finish of the 1998-89 BOC race may be switched from the United States to Falmouth.