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Last Updated: Friday, 3 November 2006, 16:54 GMT
Britons battle on in world race
Alex Thomson
Thomson is steeling himself to climb the mast to make repairs
Britain's three sailors in the 5 Oceans around-the-world race are experiencing mixed fortunes as the fleet heads down the west coast of north Africa.

Mike Golding's boat was hit by a giant squid, Sir Robin Knox-Johnston savoured a bottle of Rioja wine and Alex Thomson was preparing to climb his mast.

Swiss skipper Bernard Stamm led by 530 nautical miles from Japan's Kojiro Shiraishi on day 13.

Kiwi Graham Dalton was heading for the island of Porto Santo to make repairs.

Dalton is experiencing problems with the port rudder of his Open 50 and will serve out the obligatory 48-hour time penalty in the island to the east of Madeira.

I discovered a very good bottle of Rioja, which went down extraordinarily well with Spanish bread, onions and cheese

Sir Robin Knox-Johnston

Golding was in third place, about 130 nautical miles adrift of Shiraishi after being forced into port following the storm early in the race.

But he was confident of catching the Japanese soon, despite his brush with the giant squid.

"The decks and even the foot of the headsail were covered - it looks like squid ink and there's an awful lot of it," said Golding. "It was pretty big, but I'm not worried I'm bigger."

He added: "The weather is great if you're on holiday, not if you're trying to sail. With crystal skies and glassy seas it becomes very difficult to keep the boat speed up and consistent.

"It requires a huge amount of concentration and very light gentle movements around the boat."

Thomson, who has been bombarded by flying fish, was steeling himself to scale the mast to repair a problem with the furling gear before he reaches the Southern Ocean.

"Potentially I have a big problem," said Thomson who was fourth, 130 nautical miles behind Golding on Friday.

Sir Robin Knox-Johnston
Veteran yachtsman Knox-Johnston was in fifth on day 13

"I cannot sail the rest of the race like this, because if it got really windy and I could not put the sail away, or if it unfurled itself again, I could be putting both the boat and myself at risk. Not such a smart move.

"We have been looking at the various options to resolve this, and one of them is to stop and replace the stay.

"However I am not into this idea, as I have already had 48 hours in port, and as the saying goes 'port rots ships and men' - not to mention that I just cannot afford another stop."

Veteran sailor Knox-Johnston, 67, meanwhile, was in high spirits as he tried to keep pace with the leading bunch.

"I discovered a very good bottle of Rioja, which went down extraordinarily well with Spanish bread, onions and cheese," said Knox-Johnston, who in 1969 became the first person to sail solo non-stop around the world.

"However, I have been experiencing some poor weather conditions with various small squalls blowing through. All these expensive weather files but none predicted this little nasty."

The first of three legs began in Bilbao, Spain and will take the fleet through the treacherous Southern Ocean, ending in Fremantle, Western Australia in early December.

The race then stops in Norfolk, USA, before a final leg back to Bilbao, arriving in Spain sometime in April 2007.

SEE ALSO
Knox-Johnston back on race track
28 Oct 06 |  Sailing
New challenge for sailing legend
22 Sep 06 |  Hampshire


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