Sailing: Smith compelled to improve

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The Independent Online
Lawrie Smith holds the first of a series of crisis meetings in Auckland this morning in an attempt to put his Silk Cut campaign back on the Whitbread round the world race track. Top of the agenda will be dealing with his navigator, Steve Hayles, who, after two fourth places, a seventh and a sixth, will be looking to initiate a bolder policy.

Seventh overall at half-way is not what this high profile, high budget campaign promised. Smith needs to turn it round, and he needs to put everything in place before returning to Australia this week for time with his family.

At the end of the fourth leg into Auckland, Smith said he was still convinced he had a fast boat, it was just that they kept going the wrong way. But, instead of pointing the finger at Hayles, he said that he was as much to blame. It is frustration about tactical swings and advice being ignored that is leading to some of the tension. While privately angry that Hayles has expressed frustration about his tactical advice being ignored, Smith also wants to keep together a team that needs new focus.

Tomorrow a jury will convene to hear a protest lodged by Toshiba that Paul Cayard broke both race rules and international regulations for the prevention of collisions at sea by failing to display navigation lights at dusk on the last evening of the fourth leg from Sydney to Auckland.

- Stuart Alexander