Dilemma for women: to sail or to motor in EF Education wants to be on time for start of Leg 6

March 04, 1998|By Gilbert A. Lewthwaite | Gilbert A. Lewthwaite,SUN FOREIGN STAFF

SAO SEBASTIAO, Brazil - EF Education, with its all-woman crew and new mast, is facing a dilemma as it heads toward the finish line in Leg 5 of the Whitbread Round the World Race: whether to retire from the leg and switch on its engine.

With 1,500 miles still between it and this stopover in the Tropics, it is becoming increasingly doubtful whether it will be here in time for the race's restart on March 14.

Technically, EF Education can start late, but it has little to lose in calling it quits in this leg and trying to rejoin the rest of the fleet, because it is already at the bottom of the overall points standings.

The problem is whether motoring in would be any faster than sailing, particularly because it would require a refueling stop en route. The decision is being left to the crew, who will judge the weather conditions.

Of the dismasting, Marleen Cleyndert, who flew here from Ushuaia, Argentina, after the new mast was fitted, said: "All you can do is look at the bits that are hanging down, and, for sure, disappointment kicks in straight away.

"You don't have much time, because the mast is hanging off the side. Everyone just got on with the job to get the thing back on board. In the next couple of watches after we had made some jury sails, everyone just sat around pretty much with their own thoughts."

If EF Education motors in, it will be the second boat to resign from the leg. Britain's Silk Cut, which also broke its mast in the Southern Ocean, arrived here Monday night under power, a sorry sight with half its mast missing. Silk Cut gained the minimum of 26 points for the leg. If EF Education motors to Sao Sebastiao, it, too, would receive 26 points, instead of 39 points it stands to gain from sailing in.

Silk Cut's new mast is expected to arrive in the port of Santos, 70 miles to the south, tomorrow and will be shipped here by barge.

Pub Date: 3/04/98

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