In front of a crowd echoing the glory days of the 1987 America's Cup, Grant Dalton's New Zealand Endeavour had led the charge from Fremantle as the 14-strong Whitbread Race fleet started the third, 3,272-mile, leg to Auckland.
Romping along in sunshine and 20 knots of south-westerly Fremantle Doctor, Dalton had the crew busy switching sails and dodging spectator craft as the course took him past the crowded beaches of North Shore and Cottesloe.
Round Heineken Buoy he had a 30-second lead over the second maxi, Pierre Fehlmann's Merit Cup, and tight in third place was the leading Whitbread 60, Intrum Justitia.
At the helm of Intrum was Pierre Mas, the French Admiral's Cup skipper, as Smith called the shots, warned off any who thought they could pull a fast move, and showed that the drive and hunger which brought such spectacular victory in the second leg was burning as bright as before. But Dalton was to see Fehlmann edge ahead and with him France's Eric Tabarly, who had taken over as skipper of La Poste from Daniel Malle.Reuse content