Sailing: New era for 60s: Whitbread rules changed

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The Independent Online
THE Whitbread 60 will be the only yacht in the next Round the World Race scheduled for 1997-98, but the route has yet to be decided. The yacht, about 64 feet in length and specially designed for the race, has proved as fast as the retiring 84ft maxis and can be campaigned on a smaller budget.

The move meets the approval of nearly everyone. At the Heineken Skippers' Forum yesterday even Grant Dalton, of the leading maxi New Zealand Endeavour, said: 'The reality of life is that it will be a Whitbread 60 race, and so it should be.'

In the W60 Intrum Justitia, Lawrie Smith has twice broken the world record for miles covered in 24 hours, and the 60s occupy two of the three top places in total elapsed time for the four legs of the current race.

Asked whether the current generation of 60s would be obsolete for the next race, three of the top five, Chris Dickson, Brad Butterworth and Ross Field, said that, while there may be new designers and opportunities for improvement, the 1993-94 boats should still be competitive.

It is likely, however, that some of the sail restrictions that have applied in this race will be lifted and a few other restrictions will be dropped.

WHITBREAD ROUND THE WORLD RACE: (Auckland to Punta del Este, Urug): Overall positions after four legs: Maxi class: 1 New Zealand Endeavour, 84 days 16 hours 58 min 23sec; 2 Merit Cup, 85:12:05:12; 3 La Poste, 87:00:10:48; Uruguay Natural, 102:03:27:14. Whitbread 60s: 1 Tokio, 84:18:55:00; 2 Intrum Justitia, 85:09:06:49; 3 Yamaha, 85:12:43:45; 4 Galicia '93 Pescanova, 85:16:55:01; 5 Winston, 86:07:54:16; 6 Brooksfield, 92:17:56:53; 7 Heineken, 94:10:53:29; 8 Dolphin and Youth 96:10:17:59; 9 Hetman Sahaidachny 96:11:17:29; 10 Odessa, 115:19:11:58.

BT Results Service.