U.S. Women will rejoin Whitbread SAILING

November 10, 1993|By Peter Baker | Peter Baker,Staff Writer

A couple of weeks ago, the U.S. Women's Challenge said it could not continue in the Whitbread Round the World Race because the group had failed to find a major sponsor to help pay the costs of competition. Now, however, the Women's Challenge is back in the race with a new skipper, Dawn Riley, a veteran of the last Whitbread.

Riley, an American who lives in New Zealand and who sailed in the last Whitbread aboard Maiden, the first all-female crew to complete the race, also has been part of the America's Cup and Baltimore's Columbus Cup and Santa Maria Cup.

Nance Frank, who for a decade had worked to get a Whitbread entry to finish the first leg of the 27,000-mile race, has left the Women's Challenge, and was en route to Key West, Fla., yesterday and could not be reached for comment.

Jenny Fitzharding, director of media relations at Whitbread headquarters in Punta del Este, Uruguay, said yesterday that a formal announcement of the changes aboard the challenge's Whitbread 60 will be made today. Fitzharding, however, said the new skipper will be Riley. Riley is in Punta del Este, but did not return messages yesterday.

Ross Field, skipper of Yamaha, a joint entry by Japan and New Zealand and a sister ship to the Women's Challenge racer, said yesterday that Riley was on the docks and the women's group was preparing for the start of the second leg Saturday.

The second leg of the race is more than 7,500 nautical miles to Fremantle, Australia. The ensuing legs have stopovers in Auckland, New Zealand, Punta del Este and Fort Lauderdale before the finish in Southampton, England, next May.

Field said his group had given the Women's Challenge a new mainsail to replace the one badly damaged on the race's first leg from Southampton to Punta del Este.

Field, who also is a management representative of Ocean Ventures Management, which built and owns the women's 60-footer designed by Bruce Farr and Associates of Annapolis, said repairs have been completed on the women's boat.

"The mast has been repaired, we gave them a mainsail and they appear ready to go," Field said.

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