Sailing: Smith shows class by heading south

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The Independent Online
WITH the lead switching almost every hour as low pressure fronts blew hot and cold, Lawrie Smith was able to play two trump cards in the Whitbread Race yesterday. First, he put Intrum Justitia back in the lead, both overall and of the Whitbread 60 class on the fourth leg. Second, he did so despite heading much further south than his rivals.

Behind him, Grant Dalton in New Zealand Endeavour had cut Smith's advantage to just one mile while regaining supremacy over another maxi, Merit Cup. The maxis came back into contention after a nearly a week of barely being able to match the 60s.

Dennis Conner's Winston had also held the lead briefly but all the yachts were at times slowing right down, unable to do anything as rivals in better breeze scorched ahead. The pack is on a more northerly route than Smith, who is prepared to gamble on making a gain to dent the big race lead held by Chris Dickson in Tokio after the previous leg.

Intrum's navigator, Marcel van Triest, said his was definitely the shortest route to Cape Horn but 'the risk with this move is that the weather information is rather poor and unreliable down here. I am

relying a lot on the real time satellite pictures.'

At one time fifth and hanging on to sixth place just 10 miles behind Tokio on the leg, Britain's Matt Humphries reported a serious facial injury to Dolphin & Youth crewman, Colin Richardson, who was hit by flying metal when a primary winch exploded.

WHITBREAD ROUND THE WORLD RACE; Leg 4 (Auckland to Punta del Este): Positions, with miles to the finish; Maxi class: 1 New Zealand Endeavour 3,930; 2 Merit Cup 3,938; 3 La Poste 3,988; 4 Uruguay Natural 4,277. Whitbread 60 class: 1 Intrum Justitia 3,929; 2 Brooksfield 3,955; 3 Galicia '93 Pescanova 3,970; 4 Winston 3,981; 5 Tokio 3,986; 6 Dolphin & Youth 3,996; 7 Yamaha 4,020; 8 Heineken 4,039; 9 Hetman Sahaidachny 4,242; 10 Odessa 4,317.

BT Results Service