Sailing: Smith in boat switch

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The Independent Online
BRITAIN'S Lawrie Smith has been sounded out to join Intrum Justitia, the pan-European Whitbread 60 which came a disappointing fifth in class and seventh overall in the first leg of the Whitbread Round the World Race, writes Stuart Alexander from Punta del Este.

The approach was made by Intrum's project manager, Johan Salem, after Smith was forced out of the race when his Maxi Fortuna was dismasted and then ordered to retire by his Spanish backers. Salem is due to arrive in Uruguay today.

Smith has said he would join only if that was the wish of the crew and yesterday Intrum's skipper, Roger Nilson, said he knew nothing of the move. 'Smith has not been asked to join the boat by me and I am in charge of the crew,' he said.

It is unlikely that Smith could join the boat without further wholesale changes. Still under contract to the Spanish, Smith would be an expensive move for the Dutch-based company which has already seen the budget for the boat soar in an effort to match the performance of its rivals.

WHITBREAD ROUND THE WORLD RACE (Positions, with miles to finish, as estimated by BT Results Service): 11 US Women's Challenge, 255; 12 Uruguay Naturally, 327; 13 Hetman Sahaidachny, 353; 14 Odessa, 2,846.

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