Sailing: Silk Cut caught in red tape

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The Independent Online
THERE are worried frowns on the faces of Lawrie Smith's shore crew as they wait in Brazil for the arrival of Silk Cut and the new mast to replace the one which broke in two in the southern ocean on the fifth leg of the Whitbread Round the World Race.

Silk Cut, already retired from the 6,670 mile leg, was due to limp into port last night. However, major efforts are having to be made to ensure that Brazilian customs work quickly enough to release the mast, which should be shipped by barge from Santos, arriving in Sao Sebastiao on Friday or Saturday. The British crew were not encouraged when Swedish Match had to buy a set of clothes because customs had refused to release their container in time.

The international jury, under the chairmanship of the Brazilian lawyer Peter Siemsen, is preparing to rule on the use, proper and improper, of engines.

A complaint has been lodged against Dennis Conner's Toshiba, sixth on the leg and fifth overall, because skipper Paul Standbridge admitted that he had used his engine to turn the propeller in reverse to clear some seaweed. His defence will be that the engine was never used for forward propulsion and so did not aid the progress of the yacht.

The race committee will not penalise EF Education - still with 1,895 miles to go - who motored into Ushuaia at the tip of Argentina to fit a new mast.

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