Sailing: Smith defiant on his last leg

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A LITTLE bruised pride, and some spitting of tacks about seeing his overall lead in the Whitbread Round the World Race snatched away, were quickly put on one side by a defiant Lawrie Smith yesterday, writes Stuart Alexander from Fort Lauderdale.

At a time when most of Florida was still fast asleep, he brought Intrum Justitia into the Heineken village on a dying dawn breeze 14 hours behind Ross Field's Yamaha, the leg winner.

Having started the fifth leg from Uruguay with a three- and-a-half-hour advantage, he now has a difficult challenge facing him in the form of a 10- hour deficit going into the last leg across the Atlantic to Southampton.

'Potentially we can do the same to him and we are sailing home to waters we know better than anyone else,' Smith said. He offered no excuses and added, in typical Smith form, that they 'had all been very happy, ecstatic' when told of the dismasting of the man he replaced as leader, Chris Dickson.

Earlier, Pierre Fehlmann had scored his second leg win in the maxi class, Merit Cup also beating, by four hours 10 minutes, the record set by Steinlager in 1990. He beat Grant Dalton, in New Zealand Endeavour, by only 45 minutes.