Tibbs takes lead

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The Independent Online
Chris Tibbs, the man with two Whitbread Round the World races behind him, took Concert into the lead of the BT Global Challenge yesterday as the 14 yachts tracked south past the Cape Verde Islands on the first leg to Rio de Janeiro, writes Stuart Alexander.

Tibbs was to the east and nearer Africa than Mike Golding who, in Group 4, has led most of the time. Between them, and just one mile behind, was Simon Walker, the youngest skipper in the race but, this time on Toshiba, doing his second "wrong-way" circumnavigation.

Tibbs has been coping with watermaker problems, while urging his crew to squeeze every knot of speed out of the 67-footer in the north-easterly reaching conditions which are giving the amateur, fare-paying crews tropical temperatures and a T-shirt and shorts life aboard.

There is now a 300-mile gap between the first and last boat in the fleet. James Hatfield's largely disabled crew on Time & Tide are at the rear and also languishing is Boris Webber's Courtaulds International, still recovering from torn sails, a buckled spinnaker pole and, to complete their misery, nearly a third of a day spent becalmed.

About 100 miles covers the first 10 yachts. Ahead lie the vagaries of the Doldrums and it is then that the approach of the more westerly group, Golding and Walker, will be tested against the main bunch closer to the African coast.

Adrian Donovan, skipper of Heath Insured, said: "The weather is getting hot and sleeping down below difficult. Today is tuck-box day. We each have our own jar of biscuits and choc bars. These are refilled every six days and a lot of bargaining and swapping takes place. It's the highlight of the week."