Sailing: Phillips pushes on after repair work

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THE crew of Rhone-Poulenc, who restarted the journey to Cape Horn in the British Steel Challenge yesterday, have been making light of adversity. The 67- footer, one of 10 identical yachts in the round-the-world race, had stopped in Port Stanley in the Falkland Islands after being flattened by a fierce gust which shredded a spinnaker, broke the spinnaker pole and damaged the upper rigging on the mast.

A replacement bolt to secure the cap shrouds at the mast head was flown out by the RAF, together with a precautionary pair of replacement spreaders, the horizontal arms through which the mast rigging runs.

The pole was mended ashore and the crew took the opportunity to meet the governor, visit Stanley museum, dine out and have a drink with the locals and, for Paul Egan, find time for a round of golf. Another of the 13-strong crew of amateurs on Rhone-Poulenc, Angus Mackenzie, son of the fleet medical advisor, Campbell, even managed to set up a new ship's record on their host, HMS Dumbarton, for running out through one escape hatch, across the deck and down through another while drinking half a pint of beer.

The skipper, Peter Phillips, managed to complete the work more quickly than expected, and the yacht resumed its course off the Falklands at 0230 GMT. They have a lot to make up, but a lot of time and miles to do it.

John Chittenden, aboard Nuclear Electric, still holds a 181- mile advantage over his nearest rival, Richard Merriweather, in Commercial Union, with everyone round the Horn by last night apart from Rhone-Poulenc, which was reported to be beating powerfully into 30 knots of wind and 25ft swells.

In the Vendee Globe Challenge, thesolo, non-stop, round- the-world race for single-handers, Bertrand de Broc, in Groupe LG, maintained his lead as he passed the Canaries, chased by Alain Gautier, in Bagages Superior, and the Welshman, Alan Thomas, in Cardiff Discovery, as the remaining 10 boats on the course enjoyed moving into the trade winds.

Kevin Curtis, who won a gold medal at the handicapped world sailing championships in Barcelona, and Lawrie Smith, who picked up a bronze medal a month earlier, are among the competitors nominated for the 1992 British Telecom Yachtsman of the Year award.

BRITISH STEEL ROUND-THE-WORLD CHALLENGE Second leg: Rio de Janeiro to Hobart (Positions with miles to Hobart): 1 Nuclear Electric 4,903; 2 Commercial Union 5,084; 3 Coopers and Lybrand 5,100; 4 Hofbrau 5,166; 5 British Steel II 5,175; 6 Heath Insured 5,199; 7 Pride of Teesside 5,201; 8 Group 4 5,272; 9 Interspray 5,476; 10 Rhone-Poulenc 5,711.

(Information supplied by BT).