The US started the last race in a series of nine with a lead of nearly 22 points - the Fastnet position points multiplied by 4.5. But yesterday their big boat, Bob Towse's Blue Yankee, with both Lawrie Smith and David Howlett among the crew, was lying last of the eight on corrected time as her Italian rival, Capricorno moved out in front - as did Italy's 40- footer, BravaQ8, driven by Francesco de Angelis and Paul Cayard.
David Clarke's Pigs in Space, with Kenny Read on the helm, was again in the frame. In the Mumm 36s, Jim Brady was third in No Problem ahead of Tommaso Chieffi and Eddie Warden Owen, fourth in Mumm a Mia!
There was lots of speculation about the cause of Blue Yankee being so far down. Gear damage or breakage is being commonly expressed as the main reason.
The first CMAC big boats, being led by Ireland's Jameson 1, were expected to go round the rock yesterday evening, the 40s around midnight, and the Mumm 36s, led by Hong Kong's Corum Cup, in the early hours of this morning.
Britain's big boat, Group 4 Seahorse, skippered by Robin Aisher, had slipped to second on handicap and the British 40, Group 4 Astro, and the Mumm 36, Group 4, were both seventh. That kept Britain in last place overall, just five points behind Hong Kong, and there was still hope that they could haul themselves off the bottom on the 242-mile leg back from the rock to the finish in Plymouth.
The first of the 242 yachts in the race round the rock off south-west Ireland yesterday morning was the Swedish maxi Nicorette, skippered by Ludde Ingvall. But they then found the northerlies, which had taken them up, swinging into the south-east and what had been a shorts and sun cream Fastnet turned into an oilskins and upwind beating race.
Nearly six and a half hours later the second boat round was the American maxi Sagamore, which was bad news for the boat expected to be second, the Whitbread 60 Corum, especially as they had hoped to be first. The rest of the fleet was spread all the way back to Land's End.
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