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EDITIONS
Wednesday, 28 January, 1998, 11:40 GMT
Leg One: Dramatic end in the race to Cape Town
The first leg produced a dramatic start to the sail race around the globe with one yacht pulling out of the contest and another skipper resigning.

EF language arrived in Cape Town nearly one whole day ahead of Merit Cup and Innovation Kvaerner. It finished in 29 days, 16 hours and 54 minutes to scoop 125 points.

But while they were celebrating their lead, there were less happy ships in the Atlantic.

At the end of the first leg Toshiba skipper Chris Dickson announced his shock resignation after the crew finished sixth, very nearly three days after the lead boat.

The New Zealander said his decision followed a "difference of opinion on how the programme should be run."

He was quickly replaced by Briton Paul Standbridge who had been Watch Captain during the first leg and is a veteran of four Whitbread races.

"I know I have 100% support from them [the crew] and I hope this continues on the next eight legs," he said. "It is a big burden of responsibility but not one that I am shy of."

A day after the resignation, the race was hit with another surprise when the Californian entry, America's Challenge, withdrew following its seventh place finish.

The boat's owner, Dr Neil Barth, said in a statement that the withdrawal was due to unforseen circumstances which affected the financial viability of their campaign.

He said the decision was a major disappointment to everyone involved with America's Challenge.

"They have delivered as they were required, but we have jointly been the victims of unfortunate circumstances and decided to terminate our relationships, and, as a consequence, America's Challenge is being honourably withdrawn from the Whitbread race," the satement said.

The only all-female crew in the race aboard EF Education finished the first leg in ninth place more than four days after EF language but more than a day in front of BrunelSunergy which was the last boat to reach Cape Town.

Links to more Whitbread yacht race stories are at the foot of the page.


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