Sailing: Neck and neck in the fog: Tokio and Galicia locked in a sea battle as the field bunch in Whitbread Round the World Race

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The Independent Online
TWO of the competitors in the Whitbread Round the World Race were racing alongside each other for 48 hours in thick fog. Yesterday Chris Dickson, on Tokio, admitted that the experience of battle with Galicia, a rival Whitbread 60, was frightening in these conditions.

Meanwhile, Galicia's navigator, Juan Vila, said: 'Many times, visibility is less than half a mile. The crew is excited to have a boat so close. This keeps the pressure on and makes the race more fun. With boat speeds so similar it is hard for the moment to get away from Tokio and she seems to be covering us well, but we may have our opportunity later if we go for different navigational options.'

The fog should soon disperse as the new wind from the back of the fleet builds, but Marcel van Triest, Lawrie Smith's navigator on the leading Whitbread 60, Intrum Justitia, does not predict any record-breaking runs over the next few days

All but the leader, Grant Dalton, have seen speeds increase but, though the gap has been closed on New Zealand Endeavour, Dalton still has a 70-mile lead on the nearest maxi, Pierre Fehlmann's Merit Cup, and just under 100 miles on Smith.

With Tokio 13 miles behind Intrum and Galicia three miles further astern, the leaders are bunched. Thirty-five miles back, two miles separate Brad Butterfield, in Winston, from his fellow-Kiwi, Ross Field, in Yamaha.

All the yachts have flattened out their course after a dive south which left the straggler, Odessa, in an area where many yachts have already sighted ice. The fleet will have to move north, probably at the weekend, to pass Prince Edward Island.

At the Etchells World Championships in Brisbane, 69 of the fleet of 78 were disqualified from the second race for being over the line at the start. The eventual winner, Eddie Warwick of Britain, was then also disqualified later over a collision. The third race was abandoned because of a lack of wind as a group of competitors, including Dennis Conner and the Australian Colin Beashel, sought to have the previous day's disqualifications reversed.

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