Sailing: Goss set to lead overall

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The Independent Online
WITH under a thousand miles to go, John Chittenden and the crew of Nuclear Electric are hanging on to their lead in the second leg of the British Steel Challenge Round The World Race from Rio de Janeiro to Hobart, writes Stuart Alexander.

He and his crew of 13 paying amateurs were yesterday just under 100 miles ahead of the second- placed Richard Merriweather in Commercial Union. With far less slogging to windward than expected and more opportunity for reaching along quickly just off the wind, the fleet of nine identical 60- footers is still scattered over 1,000 miles. But all will arrive up to a week ahead of the original conservative schedule and Chittenden should be in Hobart by Sunday.

Pete Goss, in Hofbrau, is nearly 300 miles behind Nuclear Electric in third place, but he looks set to take the overall lead at the halfway stage. The two boats ahead of Goss were even further behind him at the end of the first leg and his closest rival, Heath Insured, has gradually been slipping back.

The dismasted British Steel II, winner of the first leg, is still motoring and makeshift sailing for Chatham Island and then Wellington. Fresh supplies have been taken from a ship and a new mast and rig will quickly be fitted.

The closest race is between Pride of Teesside and Group 4 for fourth place. The backmarker, Rhone-Poulenc, continues to stay further north, trading the likelihood of easier conditions with the necessity of doing extra miles.

BRITISH STEEL CHALLENGE ROUND THE WORLD RACE (Second leg, Rio de Janeiro to Hobart) Leading positions (with miles to finish): 1 Nuclear Electric 992; 2 Commercial Union 1,069; 3 Hofbrau 1,271; 4= Pride of Teesside, Group 4 1,459; 6 Coopers & Lybrand, 1,479; 7 Heath Insured, 1,514; 8 Interspray, 1,718; 9 Rhone-Poulenc 2,058. Dismasted: British Steel II.

(Information supplied by BT.)

Gales followed by a windless hole robbed the New Zealand maxi ketch Endeavour of the Sydney-to- Hobart race record yesterday. The fickle conditions allowed Amazon, the Australian pocket maxi, to claw back Endeavour's lead and a close finish is now expected.

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