Sailing: Madeira tastes good for Cherry

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The Independent Online
Vivien Cherry, in Coopers & Lybrand, was credited with leading the 10-strong British Steel Challenge fleet for round-the- world amateurs last night. She had passed Madeira to the east in a group which included Paul Jeffes in Interspray and Richard Tudor in British Steel II.

They were eight and 37 miles behind with just under 4,600 miles to go to the first stopover in Rio de Janeiro after having started from Southampton on 26 September.

A brisk north-westerly, which gave Adrian Donovan's Heath Insured a best yet noon-to-noon round of 245.1 miles, had eased back, so recent average speeds of eight to nine knots are also now likely to reduce.

Also taking the more easterly route nearer the African coast are Heath, the early leader Pride of Teesside, skippered by Ian MacGillivray, and Rhone-Poulenc, with John O'Driscoll in command.

Both John Chittenden in Nuclear Electric and Pete Goss in Hofbrau have gone just west of the island, but furthest to the west are Wil Sutherland and his 13 crew on Commercial Union. They are also last, but are possibly hoping for the same sort of weather break which gave Peter Blake in Steinlager the jump on the rest of the fleet on the first leg of the 1989-90 Whitbread.

Most of the crews report some feeling of homesickness rather than seasickness but, while some are vying for the best cook award, the team on Rhone-Poulenc are kept busy mending a massive tear in a spinnaker.

Computer predictions still put the first finisher in Rio on 28 October, but there is a gap of more than 100 miles between the first and the last, with the Doldrums still to negotiate.

BRITISH STEEL CHALLENGE First leg (Southampton to Rio) Distance to finish (nautical miles): 1 Coopers & Lybrand 3,604; 2 Interspray 3,612; 3 British Steel II 3,641; 4 Nuclear Electric 3,654; 5 Hofbrau 3,675; 6 Rhone-Poulenc 3,683; 7 Group 43,693; 8 Heath Insured 3,694; 9 Pride of Teesside 3,695; 10 Commercial Union 3,710.