Fleet's leaders cross Equator, of Brazil coast Innovation Kvaerner leads as boats head for 1st mark

Week in review

October 08, 1997|By Peter Baker | Peter Baker,SUN STAFF

During the past week, the three leaders in the Whitbread Round the World Race have passed the Cape Verde Islands, passed through the Doldrums, slipped and slammed into the Southern Hemisphere -- and by this morning probably will have rounded the first rounding mark of the race.

Innovation Kvaerner (Norway) continues to lead the 10-boat fleet, which now has a spread of more than 550 nautical miles from first place to last.

Yesterday, as Innovation Kvaerner closed on the rounding mark at Fernando de Noronha island at the eastern tip of Brazil, skipper Knut Frostad reported sailing into freshening winds of 15 to 20 knots and big waves. "The boat is taking a serious hammering," he said. "But it seems to handle it well."

While Frostad and crew prepared for a night-time rounding in the Fernando Archipelago, Merit Cup (Monaco) and EF Language (Sweden) were sailing at faster speeds toward the mark and hoping to gain ground.

The No. 4 and No. 5 boats in the fleet, Silk Cut (England) and Chessie Racing (Maryland), were both more than 140 miles back, with Silk Cut reporting it had cleared the Doldrums and was moving into better breezes.

"There is a distinct feeling of having left the Doldrums," skipper Lawrie Smith reported yesterday, as Silk Cut sailed upwind in about 15 knots of breeze. "The huge, black thunder clouds, which have been a feature of the last 36-48 hours, are no longer to be seen, having been replaced by small cumulus clouds we normally associate with the trade winds."

During the previous 48 hours, Smith reported, Silk Cut had caught and passed Chessie and was expanding its hold on 4th place.

vTC "We expect to be able to hold them off at least to the first turning mark," Smith said.

Pub Date: 10/08/97

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