Sporting Digest: Sailing

Grant Dalton, the skipper of Merit Cup, has brought in the New Zealand sailmaker and America's Cup winning tactician Tom Dodson for the 1,270-mile fourth leg of the Whitbread Round the World Race from Sydney to Auckland which starts on 4 January. Dodson will also sail leg seven from Fort Lauderdale to Baltimore and leg nine, La Rochelle to Southampton. Speculation continues that Dennis Conner, who arrives in Sydney tomorrow, may still contest the next leg on Toshiba as co-skipper with Paul Standbridge, and George Collins has been working hard to persuade John Kostecki to sail another leg on Chesie Racing after posting a third last time.

The American brothers Jonathon and Charlie McKee yesterday led the field at the end of the first day of the 49er World Championships in Perth, Western Australia. They had a one-point lead over the New Zealanders Dan Slator and Nathan Handley after three races on the Swan River in the high-performance dinghy class, which will make its debut at the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney. The McKees, from Seattle, claimed two firsts and a second place. Slator and Handley earned one first and two second places.The top seeds, Chris Nicholson and Daniel Phillips, of Australia, are 23rd after being forced to retire from one heat with a broken rudder.