Fickle winds deny early race result

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 11 April, 1993, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 11 April, 1993, 12:00am

MANDALAY and X-Rated were last night locked in a tense battle for line honours in the 1993 San Fernando yacht race.

A petering breeze denied both yachts an opportunity to complete the crossing of the China Sea before nightfall last night.

On the latest plots, Richard and Inge Strompf's 50-footer X-Rated, which had trailed Nigel Stevens' 60-footer Mandalay, looked favoured to take line honours and make it a double after taking the Dunhill-sponsored trophy in the China Sea Race Series last year.

After the boats were buffeted in the early stages of the race from Hongkong, the fleet is now faced with a falling breeze off the coast of northern Luzon Island.

As night fell, the breeze petered to nothing, ensuring that the 47 surviving yachts in the fleet would have a slow and difficult passage into the northern Philippines sea port.

Hopes were raised just before sunset when a sail was sighted on the horizon, but organisers announced later that it was a non-competitor in the fleet.

Frank Pong's Jelik was also among the leading group at last night's positional fix and was expected to finish before dawn today.

Intrigue, a fancied contender for handicap honours, was well placed at yesterday morning's positional fix, but no report was received from her in the afternoon's second mandatory position report.

In previous races, competitors have been docked up to 10 per cent of their elapsed time as a penalty for not reporting their position, which may well jeopardise Intrigue's overall performance.

The latest positional fixes indicate that this year's race will be dominated by the bigger boats, but with the failing wind conditions, today's finale could see the smaller boats at the rear of the fleet close the gap on their larger rivals.