Smith selects crew

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The Independent Online
A torrid 15 months of hard work was promised by Lawrie Smith yesterday for the crew of Silk Cut, the identities of whom were announced in Southampton yesterday for the Whitbread Race, which starts on 21 September this year.

"Selecting the crew has been a tough process," Smith said, "but I am confident we now have a team capable of matching the best that the other crews can throw at us. But if the guys think they have worked hard to get on board Silk Cut, it is nothing compared to the training they are now going to do in the lead-up to the race."

With the new boat being built in Sydney and due to be air-freighted to Britain at the end of May, the crew - Gordon Maguire, Neal McDonald, Stu Bannatyne, Adrian Stead, Jez Fanstone, Steve Hayles, Jason Carrington, Tim Powell, Craig Nutter and Jan Dekker - will continue training at Vilamoura, Portugal. Russell Pickthall is co-ordinating the sail programme and a 12th crew may be added for some legs.

In Auckland, Grant Dalton has launched both his Whitbread 60s for the Merit Cup in a remarkably short 17 weeks. They will be tuned and developed in New Zealand waters before being shipped to Europe.

Mike Golding's Group 4 leads the fourth leg of the BT Challenge, followed by Simon Walker (Toshiba) and Boris Webber (Courtaulds), as the 14 yachts leave behind a storm on the first night and head across the Bass Strait under spinnaker.