Sailing: Hall has to blame himself for error

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The Independent Online
BOTH ANGRY and optimistic, Josh Hall enjoyed a sleigh ride into Cape Town yesterday to take fourth place on the first leg of the Around Alone race from Charleston.

The second British entry in Class I for Open 60s, he was full of praise for his boat, Gartmore Investment Managers, which brought him to the end of the 6,800-mile leg averaging over 18 knots for the last six hours, sitting for minutes at a time at a steady 31 knots.

The frustration was over a gamble five days ago that saw a deficit of 30 miles on the leaders stretch to 100 and then 500 as the weather let him down, but favoured his rivals. The result was that he carries a 48- hour deficit on the leg winner, Mike Golding's Team Group 4, when the second leg to Auckland starts on 5 December.

But Hall had plenty to smile about, not least making it to Cape Town on his own this time, after being rescued by a fellow competitor when his boat struck a semi-submerged object and sank on the same leg in 1994.

He dismissed claims by second-placed Isabelle Autissier that one of the race favourites, Italy's Giovanni Soldini, was out of the overall running because he would be three days behind when he arrives today.

On the next leg, he predicted, "one of the boats is going to have to spin out" as the pressure to push hard among all the top five Class I boats took its toll. And he expects the record mileage of 389.6 set by Soldini for a singlehander to be broken again.

But most of all he was full of praise for a boat built with simplicity at its core. "I feel very in tune with the boat," he said. "It's exactly what I want. So don't blame the boat for this leg's result. That was pilot error."