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Honolulu, Hawaii (July 9, 1997)-- Bob Lane’s Medicine Man continues on a pace to break the two decade old race record in the 39th Biennial Transpacific Yacht Race, and if the Andrews 56 crosses the finish line any time before 9 pm tomorrow evening, it will be a certainty.

Lane and crew have sailed what appears to be a near-perfect race and estimate their time of arrival at approximately 5 pm. Spectators at the Diamond Head lookout can watch for a blue hull with sail number -- 97777 on its spinnaker -- steaming across the Moloka`i channel toward the Diamond Head buoy.

Eight other boats are also ahead of Merlin's 20-year-old record pace--including Merlin itself--and the two giant multihulls that started two days later are flying even faster to overtake the monohulls.

Although winds continued to blow from 18 to 22 knots the length of the 2,225-nautical mile course, no further breakdowns were reported after seven of the 38 starters dropped out.

If Medicine Man does break the record, they will receive the venerable 4 x 3 feet, solid koa Barn Door Trophy for first to finish on elapsed time. The trophy was first presented in 1949. But they may not hang on to it for long, because on Sunday when the larger turbo sleds are expected to finish, one of them could take it away with an even faster elapsed time.

Roy Disney's Pyewacket , sailing without the owner because of his broken leg, regained the lead among the fastest boats that started Saturday by sailing 324 miles in the previous 24 hours--an average speed of 13.5 knots and one mile more than the race record it broke by making 336 miles on Monday.

Pyewacket's average speed for the race was 12.2 knots compared to Merlin’s 1977 10.9 knot average when it set the record of 8 days 11 hours 1 minute 45 seconds. Currently defending champion Cheval, two-time winner Luna Barba (ex-Silver Bullet), Victoria, Renegade, Merlin, Taxi Dancer, Mirage and Grand Illusion are also poised to break the record. Farther behind but coming even faster were Steve Fossett's 60-foot trimaran Lakota , which turned 481 miles (average 20 knots) to close to within 11 miles of Bruno Peyron's 86-foot catamaran Explorer . Lakota's record of 6:16:07:16 (average speed 13.9 knots) seemed certain to fall.

Explorer and Lakota were projected to finish Saturday afternoon, the others early Sunday.

STANDINGS by corrected handicaps at 8 a.m. Wednesday:

DIVISION I (started 7-5)--1. Pyewacket, Roy Disney, Los Angeles YC, 1,119 miles to go (324 miles in previous 24 hours); 2. Cheval, Hal Ward, California YC, 1,146 (315); 3. Luna Barba, Anthony Sessions, Royal Vancouver YC, 1,146 (300); 4. Victoria, Mike Campbell, Long Beach YC, 1,173 (312); 5. Renegade, Dan Sinclair, Royal Vancouver YC, 1,193 (292); 6. Merlin, Alliance Syndicate, New York YC, 1,194 (307).

DIVISION II (started 7-5)--1. Taxi Dancer, Don Hughes/Bob Richards, Santa Barbara YC, 1,192 (291); 2. Mirage, Jim Ryley, St. Francis YC, 1,211; 3. Grand Illusion, James McDowell, Lahaina

YC, 1,217; 4. Orient Express, Peter Tong, St. Francis YC, 1,229; 5. Cheval 88, Steve Popovich, Cabrillo Beach YC, 1,252; 6. Ragtime, Scott Zimmer, Balboa YC, 1,258; 7. Kathmandu, Joe Jaconi, Los Angeles YC, 1,258.

DIVISION III (started 7-2)--1. Ralphie, Jerry Montgomery, Alamitos Bay YC, 594; 2. Medicine Man, Bob Lane, Long Beach YC, 406; 3. Stealth Chicken, Liz Hjorth, California YC, 566; 4. Persuasion, Steve Travis, Seattle Corinthian YC, 559; 5. Bay Wolf, Betty Sue Sherman, Long Beach YC, 680; 6. Survivor, Rob Hudson, Get Challenged, Ojai, 771; 7. Seven Seas III, Karl Schopp, Huntington Harbour YC, 949.

DIVISION IV (started 7-2)--1. Pegasus XIV, Linda Newland, Island YC, Alameda, 885; 2. Acey Deucy, Richard K. Leute, Encinal YC, Dover, Del., 816; 3. Silver Girl, Christopher Stumpf, Ketchikan, Alaska YC, 1,279.

CRUISING DIVISION (started 6-28)--1. Salsipuedes, Fred Frye, San Diego Yacht Club, 289; 2. Surprise, Richard Sherlock, Anacapa YC, Channel Islands, 550; 3. Inquisitor, John Black, American Legion YC, San Diego, 537; 4. Ka Ula Lani, George Killam, Richmond, Calif. YC, 593; 5. Endeavor III, Eleanor Clitheroe, Royal Canadian YC, Toronto, 636.

MULTIHULL I--1. Explorer, Bruno Peyron, YC La Baule, France, 1,461 (453 previous 24 hours); 2. Lakota, Steve Fossett, San Diego YC, 1,472 (481).

MULTIHULL II--1. Alguita, Charles Moore, Long Beach YC, 1,162.

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Last modified July 10th '97 1209 Hawaiian Time