Sailing: Golding advancing in a blur

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BRITAIN'S MIKE GOLDING in Group 4 was last night closing in on the race leader, Isabelle Autissier in PRB, as the leading pair ate up the remaining 1,000 miles of the first leg of the Around Alone Race from Charleston to Cape Town.

Still in the hunt 20 miles behind Golding was Marc Thiercelin, who has led for much of the 6,800-mile leg, but Josh Hall in Gartmore Investments had slipped to 150 miles behind the leading trio.

Golding has been making progress despite continuing problems. "The last three days have been a blur of speed, power reaching at up to 24 knots and averaging over 17 knots," he said. "I've just clung on, made the sail changes when needed and been able to do little else."

As well as having to spend long periods on the tiller because a shortage of electrical power has curtailed use of the self steering, Golding revealed that he had been towing a 40ft long lifting strop around the keel. "I cleared it this morning, by stopping the boat and sailing backwards," he said.

While the leaders, at this pace, would be in Cape Town by Monday, the forecasters were predicting "the sweet ride" would soon come to an end.

There is, said Commanders Weather, a "mushy, sprawling high moving east. Mother Nature's about to switch off the fan. The party's over."

Not necessarily so and all the top four should be in Cape Town by the middle of next week at the latest.

In Class II, Jean-Pierre Mouligne has regained a 24-mile edge over Brad Van Liew The good news for Britain was that third-placed Mike Garside had pulled back to within 100 miles of Van Liew.