'Match' leaves trail of smoke Swedish boat takes a flier, leaves rest of fleet in wake, Week in review

November 12, 1997|By Peter Baker | Peter Baker,SUN STAFF

On Leg 1 of the Whitbread Round the World Race, Swedish Match finished in eighth place. Five days into the 4,600-mile Leg 2 from Cape Town to Fremantle, Australia, skipper Gunnar Krantz and his veteran Whitbread crew are in first place and pulling away.

At midnight (GMT), Swedish Match had a 200-mile lead over second-place Innovation Kvaerner and a 360-mile lead over EF Education, the women's team, at the back of the nine-boat fleet.

Chessie Racing, the Maryland entry, was in sixth place, 324 miles behind the leader.

On Leg 1, a tactical mistake off the coast of France left Swedish Match back in the fleet, an error Krantz said the team could not correct through the balance of the leg.

On this leg, the Swedish team made its move early and based it on hearsay and gumption.

"We acted totally against reason," Krantz said. "We had promised ourselves that we would stay with the fleet no matter what happens. . . . [But] we had this info and gut feeling to go away from land."

Krantz said he took a flier that proved to be a "big advantage for us."

Krantz said Cape Town sailors told him to stay at least 2 miles offshore and out of the wind shadow created by coastal bluffs.

"While debating about leaving the fleet," Krantz said, "we saw the smoke from the engine on a big ship [being carried away by steady breeze], and it looked just good."

Three-and-a-half hours into the leg, Swedish Match had built a 6-mile lead. By Sunday morning, the other skippers knew they had made a mistake letting Swedish Match slip away.

With Swedish Match building its lead, the other boats have been heading south to look for the strong westerly winds of the Roaring 40s. Innovation Kvaerner, sailing back in the fleet early in the leg, has swept into second place on the strength of sailing farther south than any boat.

Paul Cayard on EF Language, which won Leg 1, was nearly becalmed in eighth place, 331 miles back. "This is not funny anymore," Cayard reported.

Pub Date: 11/12/97

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