Sailing: Smith makes light of problem

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The Independent Online
LIGHT winds over the final 500 miles could yet rob Lawrie Smith of a deserved victory in the fourth leg of the Whitbread Round the World Race, but last night the Briton had put Intrum Justitia 90 miles ahead of his nearest Whitbread 60 rival, Chris Dickson's Tokio.

He had also stretched his lead to 56 miles over the leading maxi, Grant Dalton's New Zealand Endeavour. To Smith the important prize is not a second Heineken Trophy for a leg win, but a deep cut into the 17 hours and 40 minutes lead that Dickson has built over the previous three legs.

Ninety miles at full blast may only have rewarded Smith with six hours. In slower conditions that could easily double. Smith is also assured of the Omega prize for the most distance covered in 24 hours on this leg: a world record of 428.7.

The race for second place among the 60s is still deparately close, with Dickson having held a three-mile lead over Ross Field's Yamaha for nearly three days and Javier de la Gandara, in Galicia, just six miles further astern. In the maxis, Dalton has a 60-mile cushion over Pierre Fehlmann's Merit Cup and 126 over Eric Tabarly in La Poste.

In New York, Bill Koch, the successful defender of the America's Cup in 1992, made the long-awaited announcement that he is putting an all- girl crew into the trials for next year's defence against Dennis Conner's Stars & Stripes and Kevin Mahaney's Pact '95.

WHITBREAD ROUND THE WORLD RACE: Leg 4 (Auckland to Punta del Este): Positions, with miles to the finish: Maxi class: 1 New Zealand Endeavour, 706; 2 Merit Cup, 762; 3 La Poste, 832; 4 Uruguay Natural, 1433. Whitbread 60s: 1 Intrum Justitia, 650; 2 Tokio, 741; 3 Yamaha, 744; 4 Galicia '93 Pescanova, 750; 5 Winston, 846; 6 Brooksfield, 881; 7 Dolphin & Youth, 1015; 8 Heineken, 1025; 9 Hetman Sahaidachny, 1109; 10 Odessa, 1515. BT Results Service