Sailing: Tactical battle in Whitbread

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The Independent Online
Like a field of nine approaching at a canter the tape which marked the real start of the race, the Whitbread yachts crossed the international dateline yesterday and were lining up for the charge through the Southern Ocean that makes up the fifth leg.

Still leading, and most southerly of the field, was Dee Smith in Chessie Racing. On his furthest flank to the west was Paul Cayard in eighth-placed EF Language, and most easterly was Roy Heiner in Brunel Sunergy.

As they headed through 43 degrees south, the rest of the fleet was still relatively bunched with only slight advantages apparent for 72 hours of hard work.

Tracy Edwards was expected to cross the start line at Ushant yesterday for the attempt to break the round the world sailing record of 71 days 14 hours 22 mins and eight seconds.

The 12-strong all-woman crew of the 92ft catamaran Royal & Sun Alliance need to make a fast start to south of the equator if they are to tackle the time set by the Frenchman, Olivier de Kersauson with confidence.

WHITBREAD ROUND THE WORLD TROPHY (Fifth leg, Auckland to Sao Sebastiao): 1 Chessie Racing (US) 6,160.9 nautical miles to finish; 2 Toshiba (US) 3.6 miles behind; 3 EF Education (Swe) 7.5; 4 Innovation Kvaerner (Nor) 12; 5 Merit Cup (Mon) 13.6; 6 Swedish Match (Swe) 14; 7 Silk Cut (GB) 14.1; 8 EF Language (Swe) 21.8; 9 BrunelSunergy (Neth) 55.