Sailing: Swedes claim lead as Dalton suffers from sticky seaweed

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After a thrilling high-speed start dodging the huge spectator fleet in the Solent, the 10 yachts in the Whitbread race were yesterday struggling to go round Ushant on the north-west corner of France.

It took them just 11 hours to complete the first 200 miles, pushed along by fresh south-easterly breezes, but then conditions went light and they bunched up on the French side of the Channel.

Back in the lead was the man who led the charge out past the Needles, America's Paul Cayard, in one of the two Swedish EF yachts, although as dawn broke yesterday his partners in the all-women boat skippered by Christine Guillou had briefly taken over that role. As the top six began to split away, Cayard's new navigator, Mark Rudiger, admitted that the one that gets the lucky puff of wind pulls ahead.

In second place, Grant Dalton reported that his boat had a big lump of seaweed round the keel at a time overnight when they were going too fast to take any action, but until the wind settles into a more regular pattern all are most concerned that they should not be left behind in a calm.

WHITBREAD ROUND THE WORLD RACE (Standings at 7pm yesterday, with distance to finish): 1 EF Language (Swe) 7100.2miles; 2 Merit Cup (Mon) 7,102; 3 Chessie Racing (US) 7103.9; 4 Silk Cut (GB) 7104.7; 5 Kvaerner (Nor) 7105.5; 6 Toshiba (US) 7106.8; 7 America's Challenge (US) 7112.8; 8 Brunel Sunergy (Neth) 7117.7; 9 EF Education (Swe) 7122.4; 10 Swedish Match (Swe) 7122.7.

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