Cayard Wins 'Round-The-Horn' Leg of Whitbread Race; Has huge Lead As Fleet Prepares To Head For U.S.

Img0006.JPG (17846 bytes)Paul Cayard, the veteran America's Cup helmsman, who recently turned his hand to round-the-world racing, has an almost insurmountable lead in the Whitbread Race after five of the nine legs.

Cayard, on his EF Language-the Swedish boat he skippers-has taken such a lead, he could probably retire from the nex leg-from Sao Sebastiao, Brazil to Fort Lauderdale--and yet maintain his lead. The 4,750-mile leg from Brazil to Florida is due to start on March 14. Cayard, who has sailed America's Cups for Italy and with Dennis Conner last time around, has been named skipper and CEO of the St. Francis Yacht Club's challenge for the Cup in 2000. Cayard's Whitbread team has now won three of the five legs sailed thus far.

The British Merit Cup is in second place overall despite a fifth (outof nine boats) finish on this most challenging leg, which brought the boats 6,670 miles-through the angry Southern Ocean and around the dreaded Cape Horn-from Auckland, New Zealand. Lying in third place is Gunnar Krantz's Swedish March, while American Dee Smith in Chessie Racing has moved up to fourth. This puts American skippers in two of the top four slots, which is unusual, because Europeans, Aussies and New Zealanders have long reigned supreme in long distance racing.

A huge Whitbread celebration is scheduled for Fort Lauderdale starting on April 2 when the first boats are due to arrive. It will continue until April 19 when leg 7 gets underway, running up the East Coast to Baltimore. The boast are expected in Baltimore-and the celebration will start there-on April 22. Then, from April 30 to May 3, the festivities change venues from Baltimore to Annapolis with continuous entertainment, historical displays-everything up to and including fireworks.