Sailing: Smith stuck in sad saga

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THE sad saga of Britain's Silk Cut was tinged with a hint of humiliation yesterday as Lawrie Smith dropped further and further back on the eighth leg of the Whitbread race from Annapolis to La Rochelle.

Smith was not alone in his misery as another famous name, John Kostecki, brought up the rear in Chessie Racing, over 200 miles behind the leader, Paul Standbridge, who has just 1,200 miles to go in Toshiba.

But Smith, in eighth place, was going really slowly, having found a spot in the Atlantic with hardly any wind to push him along. He has been reduced to praying that a forecast new westerly wind will pick him up and help him close the gap over the next 36 hours.

Standbridge had slightly increased his lead over Grant Dalton in Merit Cup, and these two had a 25-mile cushion on the overall leader and third- placed Paul Cayard in EF Language.

Third would suit the Californian very nicely as, even though the only man who could attack him, Gunnar Krantz, moved a flu-hit Swedish match up to fifth place, this would leave Cayard with a 127-point advantage over Krantz.

That is more than Krantz could score on the final leg to Southampton so Cayard, whose father is French, should be able to celebrate an overall win in the Volvo Trophy this weekend.

There is, however, still some tricky navigation to complete. "Up ahead is a minefield of light air," said Standbridge. "It is critical to ride this front as long as possible and try to get on to the back of a stationary low at 15 degrees west which will get us into the Bay of Biscay."