Sailing: Severalles tops the parade

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OUTRUNNING bigger and faster opponents, Brian Thompson and Helena Darvelid romped into the lead at the start of the Teesside Two-handed Round Britain Race yesterday, writes Stuart Alexander.

Their 35ft trimaran, Severalles Challenge, led the parade around Plymouth Sound of 52 competing yachts, varying in size from Ross Hobson's 26ft Live Wire to American David Scully's 60ft trimaran, Lakota.

This sixth staging of the five- leg race, which requires everyone to call for 48-hour stops at Crosshaven, southern Ireland, Castlebay on the Hebridean island of Barra, Lerwick in the Shetlands, and Hartlepool, is now more of a rally than a grand prix, but early blood was drawn from Britain's Tony Bullimore in the 60ft Global Challenger by France's Patrice Carpentier in the brand new 50ft Jusq'au Bout du Monde.

Competitors in the RORC Gold Cup Race from New York to Southampton are being required to go south of what might be their preferred route as icebergs have encroached further than normal, but on Saturday the start was windless.

Dennis Conner, at the helm of the Whitbread 60 Winston, drifted rather than rushed into battle with his two main rivals, Britain's Matt Humphries in the Dolphin and Youth Project and Nance Franck's US Women's Challenge. He was marginally ahead but astern of the leader, the IMS maxi, Broomstick, steered by Geoff Meek.

In Pwllheli, Lawrie Smith took four firsts and a second to win the ultra 330 regatta with Pete Newlands second and Russell Peters third.