Sailing: Weather delays Dolphin repairs

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AS the Italian yacht Brooksfield continued slowly on its way here last night, still escorted by the French yacht, La Poste, which found her safe but damaged, the British Whitbread 60 Dolphin & Youth made her way into the Kerguelen Islands to fit a new rudder.

Skipper Matt Humphries had to turn Dolphin back west to the northern Antartic outpost after a makeshift repair to an already broken transom- hung rudder gave way.

In 55-knot winds, Dolphin & Youth was moored in the Baie-du-Morbihan. Local engineers have been making a new mild steel rudder to be fitted when the weather abates.

Conditions at the front of the fleet have eased, but Lawrie Smith's Intrum Justitia still has a comfortable lead over Chris Dickson's Tokio, both at the head of the 14-strong fleet and the Whitbread 60 class in which they are racing.

Grant Dalton's Maxi, New Zealand Endeavour, is still holding her own against Pierre Fehlmann's Merit Cup. But, as the fleet turns north into the Indian Ocean, probable light winds should favour Merit if she can use her full sailpower.

The mercy dash to Brooksfield by La Poste and the American 60, Winston, caused damage as well as lost time. Winston's skipper Brad Butterworth reported a spinnaker pole fractured in heavy seas, and the full-length mainsail battens were broken during a gybe.

La Poste arrived first, finding Brooksfield during a grid search of over 100 square miles, and reported that delamination in the area of Brooksfield's rudder stock had caused the yacht to be flooded with an estimated three tonnes of water.

By closing a water-tight bulkhead in the stern, the danger had been contained and the rest of the water pumped out, but all the electronics had been damaged. This is the second time that Brooksfield has suffered rudder damage in the race. Just 36 hours after the start she diverted to Brest to fit a replacement flown out from Southampton.

Both Winston and La Poste will be eligible for a time compensation when they complete the leg in Fremantle. The actual amount will be decided by an international jury and, as is the way of these things, is likely to be less than they hope for but more than their competitors want them to receive.

WHITBREAD ROUND THE WORLD RACE: Second leg (Punta del Este, Urug to Fremantle, Aus): Positions, with miles to the finish: 1 Intrum Justitia 968; 2 Tokio 1,031; 3 Yamaha 1,130; 4 New Zealand Endeavour (Maxi class) 1,140; 5 Galicia 93 Pescanova 1,162; 6 Merit Cup (Maxi) 1,158; 7 Winston 1,497; 8 La Poste (Maxi) 1,681; 9 Brooksfield 1,680; 10 Dolphin and Youth 2,279; 11= Women's Challenge and Hetman Sahaidachny 2,173; 13 Odessa 2,489; 14 Uruguay National (Maxi) 2,519.