Sailing: Golding all alone in the lead

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MIKE GOLDING, of Britain, was leading the Around Alone race after the first 24 hours. He has coaxed the 60-foot Group 4 into a seven-mile advantage after leaving Charleston, South Carolina on the 6,750-mile first leg to Cape Town.

Chasing him in equal second was another Briton, Josh Hall, and France's Isobelle Autissier, in their 60-footers, Gartmore Investments and PRB, with another Frenchman, Marc Thiercelin, fourth in Somewhere, and, unexpectedly, one of the favourites, Italy's Giovanni Soldini, fifth in Fila.

But Soldini was taking a more northerly route as the fleet picked its way through some light north-easterlies, hunting for solid breeze which will take them south. The problem is in skirting the huge patches of light winds left in the wake of Hurricane George and the fear that the area of Doldrums will be unusually large.

Ian Walker dedicated his share in the Melges 24 World Championship at the weekend to Johnny Merricks, in tribute to his former Olympic partner. The 1996 silver medal pair in the 470 dinghy was leading the European championship for the Melges when a car crash claimed the life of Merricks last year in Italy.

The Italian, Giorgio Zuccoli, went in to the final day in the lead having put enough distance between himself and the American, Brian Porter, to hope he could add the world title to the European one he won in 1996.

However, the Italian was pipped by Walker and had his appeal at an appeals meeting thrown out, when he claimed that Walker had unfairly used lighter crew on board for four of the races, which were staged in lighter conditions.