Sailing / Round the World Race: Industrious Endeavour

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A ROLL of the weather dice holds the key to the winning of the Fremantle to Auckland leg of the Whitbread Round the World Race, with four of the 60-class boats bunched over as many miles. Grant Dalton's maxi, New Zealand Endeavour, is also poised to capitalise on any reduction in wind strength. A fine finish on Saturday is in prospect.

That is the forecast as the fleet heads for the turning point for home. Both Ross Field, third on Yamaha, and Chris Dickson, fourth on Tokio, were yesterday talking up the prospects for Dalton, as Dennis Conner's advantage on Winston was cut to one mile by Lawrie Smith's Intrum Justitia.

Winston has been caught because of changing weather patterns, which have favoured the boats behind. Conner's crew, who include six New Zealanders, have been fully stretched as their lead has been eaten away.

The fastest boat in the 14-strong fleet yesterday was the all-female entry, Heineken, who had an eventful day. The crew made eight sail changes in a four and a half hour spell before breakfast.

'At one stage we were hit by a 60-knot squall and the speedo leapt to 25 knots,' Dawn Riley, the skipper, said. 'The boat was flying.'

WHITBREAD ROUND THE WORLD RACE Third leg (Fremantle to Auckland) Positions with nautical miles to finish: 1 Winston (US) 878; 2 Intrum Justitia (NZ) 879; 3 Yamaha (Japan) 880; 4 Tokio (Japan) 955 (not latest position); 5 New Zealand Endeavour (NZ) 902; 6 Galicia '93 Pescanova (Sp) 904; 7 La Poste (Fr) 930; 8 Dolphin and Youth (GB) 956; 9 Merit Cup (Swit) 974; 10 Brooksfield (It) 1,040; 11 Heineken (US) 1,060; 12 Hetman Sahaidachny (Ukr) 1,173; 13 Odessa (Ukr) 1,370; 14 Uruguay Natural (Urug) 1,373.