Sailing: Smith's pursuit of Yamaha

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HAVING shaken off the buffeting and battering on the fifth leg of the Whitbread race last week, Lawrie Smith's Intrum Justitia yesterday resumed the attack on the leader, Ross Field's Yamaha.

Just 13 miles separated the two as they headed for the north-east corner of Brazil and on towards the Caribbean. With the winds still providing local help to some, hindrance to others, there is still a long way to go, including the negotiation of the Doldrums, before a winner can emerge.

Yamaha should be strong in the light conditions, as is evidenced by the performance of Heineken, Field's former boat. Heineken's present skipper, Dawn Riley, has seen the boat push up to fourth place at one time and, although its position is enhanced by the absence of Tokio and Dolphin & Youth, both docked in Brazilian ports for repairs, the boat has certainly been more up with the pace.

Ask Grant Dalton. New Zealand Endeavour, was 17 miles behind Heineken yesterday and, after suffering hull damage, he is in the uncustomary position of third maxi. Eric Tabarly in La Poste was only seven miles ahead but the leading maxi, Pierre Fehlmann's Merit Cup, has a 68-mile advantage over Dalton.

Fehlmann has also been in the wars. His Satcom Inmarsat-A dome on the foredeck has been smashed again, there is a crack in a bulkhead, two halyards, a spinnaker and the protection bar for the port steering wheel have been destroyed, and he has lost his masthead electronic wind instruments. Merit Cup also has two crew members, Gregoire Jaquet and the doctor, Dieter Stadler, laid up with injuries.

Matt Humphries, Dolphin's skipper, hopes the yacht can leave Rio today, having found the repair to bow delamination easier to manage than expected. Chris Dickson, with navigational help from race headquarters in Hedge End, took Tokio into Santos at midnight on Saturday.

WHITBREAD ROUND THE WORLD RACE Leg 5 (Punta del Este to Fort Lauderdale) Positions, with miles to finish: Maxis: 1 Merit Cup, 3,785; 2 La Poste, 3,846; 3 New Zealand Endeavour, 3,853; 4 Uruguay Natural, 4,053. Whitbread 60s: 1 Yamaha, 3,761; 2 Intrum Justitia, 3,774; 3 Brooksfield, 3,777; 4 Winston, 3,799; 5 Galicia '93 Pescanova, 3,802; 6 Heineken, 3,836; 7 Hetman Sahaidachny, 3,892; 8 Odessa, 3,964. BT Results Service. (Dolphin & Youth being repaired in Rio de Janeiro, Tokio in Santos).

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