Sailing: French crews in fight to the finish line

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The Independent Online
JUST TO make them feel at home, fireworks were being prepared here last night to greet Mike Golding and Ed Danby as they brought Team Group 4 over the finish line of the double-handed Jacques Vabre transatlantic race from Le Havre. What neither knew was if a pyrotechnic display had already been enjoyed by any of the three other yachts, all French, scrapping neck and neck to be the winner.

Having held a 200-mile cushion over their nearest rival, Catherine Chabaud and Luc Bartissol in Whirlpool saw that whittled to nothing by Thomas Coville and Herve Jean in Sodebo, to just four miles by Golding and Danby and to nine miles by Roland Jourdain and Jean le Cam in Sill. All were hoping that a wind notorious for dying in the evening would hold up long enough to finish the 4,220-mile course.

In the second group, Ellen MacArthur and Yves Parlier are not expected to bring their hastily repaired Kingfisher Aquitaine home until Sunday, with Josh Hall and Alex Thomson, reporting they are down to their last jerry can of fresh water, following 24 hours later.

After a spate of requests for last-minute postponements to repair gear damage, the 11 challengers in the Louis Vuitton Cup challenger series for the America's Cup agreed in Auckland that all such requests after the five-minute preparatory gun has been fired will be refused in the second and third rounds robin and in the six-boat semi-final round robin.