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  Friday, 19 April, 2002, 10:19 GMT 11:19 UK
News Corp takes stage win
Team News Corp head down the Chesapeake Bay
Team News Corp led the way in stage six
News Corp came through to win a closely-contested sixth leg of the Volvo Ocean Race on Thursday.

The boat, skippered by Briton Jez Fanstone, took the 875-mile leg between Miami and Baltimore in three days 12 hours.

After six hours of stop-start sailing they crossed the line in fading winds along the Chesapeake Bay at 0212 local time (0712 BST), just three miles ahead of their challengers.

It was the first win for the News Corp team and comes after they lost co-skipper Ross Field and false-started the short sixth leg.

  Leg six results:
1. News Corp
2. Amer Sports One
3. Assa Abloy
4. Illbruck
5. Team SEB
6. Team Tyco
7. Djuice
8. Amer Sports Too

Grant Dalton's Amer Sports One followed them home to take second place, just 26 minutes behind.

Assa Abloy, winner of the fifth stage, held off overall race leaders Illbruck by three minutes to take third place.

In fifth, drifting over the line at 1542 BST on Thursday, was Team SEB.

Kevin Shoebridge's Tyco finished some way back in sixth followed by Knut Frostad's djuice and Amer Sports Too.

Lisa McDonald's boat took line honours in Miami after six of the eight-boat fleet false started.

Assa Abloy was the only other boat to get away cleanly, but Amer Sports Too lost ground after an unsuccessful attempt to gain a flyer with a break East out of the Gulf Stream.

The current provides a fast route north but its warm water creates localised winds and wind shadows which can hamper progress.

  Overall standings:
1. Illbruck 41 pts
2. Assa Abloy 34 pts
3. Amer Sports One 32 pts
4. Team News Corp 31 pts
5. Team Tyco 27 pts
6. Team SEB 21 pts
7. Djuice 21 pts
8. Amer Sports Too 9 pts

But on the third day of the leg, NewsCorp, Illbruck, Assa Abloy and Amer Sports One had forged over 20 miles clear.

The last 140 miles down Chesapeake Bay to Baltimore produced variable winds and introduced a tense, tactical battle to the finish.

Fanstone admitted that the race had gone right to the wire.

"We didn't know we'd won it until we crossed the line," he said.

"Literally half a mile from the line we had stopped with no wind. I think the relief is only just setting in and I think the elation will follow.

"The conditions were relatively easy but it was very, very close racing.

"In the first half of the leg there was wind and we had speed and we picked some good shifts.

"But the last 36 hours were hell. We came into the Bay last night with a four-mile lead, and this morning the whole fleet compressed, Amer Sports One overtook us and everyone was flapping.


When people sail well and teams sail well, then our hats are off to them
Illbruck skipper John Kostecki

"It was a pretty stressful time."

The win takes News Corp above Team Tyco into fourth place in the overall standings, behind leader Illbruck, which saw its overall race lead cut to seven points with three stages remaining.

Fanstone said he was confident his crew could rise even further up the leaderboard.

"There are three legs, anything can happen," he said.

Meanwhile, Illbruck skipper John Kostecki said: "News Corp sailed a great leg, so did Amer Sports One and Assa Abloy and they all deserved to beat us.

"When people sail well and teams sail well, then our hats are off to them.

"We wanted a podium finish. I wouldn't say we are disappointed but our lead has gone away a little bit.

"I think the transatlantic leg will be one of our strong suits because of the distance and we are able to use our boat speed."

The teams will now spend 10 days in Annapolis before the start of leg seven, which takes the teams back across the Atlantic Ocean to La Rochelle, France.

The race then sails to Gothenburg in Sweden before the finish in Keil, Germany, in June.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
BBC Sport's Guy Swindells
"News Corp won in a four boat blanket finish"
News Corp skipper Jez Fanstone
"To be first is a huge relief"
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