Globe-Circling Sailor Trims Sails and More; Ali and Trash Talk

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STEVE PETTENGILL says he is going to cut the bottom half off his toothbrush in an effort to get rid of all excess weight on his sailboat, reports Ron Scherer of the Monitor's New York bureau.

Pettengill, who finished second in the third leg of the round-the-world BOC Challenge race last week, may need more than weight savings to catch up with the leader, Frenchman Christoph Augin, however.

Augin arrived in Punta del Este, Uruguay, with a 83-hour lead over Pettengill for the first three legs of the race. Augin set a course record for the 6,900- mile sail from Sydney, Australia.

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To catch Augin, Pettengill, says he will have to sail a perfect course to the finish in Charleston, S.C. To try to add some additional speed to his 60-foot yacht, Hunter's Child, he is taking off spare sails and extra supplies. He expects the last leg of the race to be fast - 20 days. With the race over so quickly, he may not need the top half of the toothbrush, either.

Trash talk: What is its place?

RUDY WASHINGTON, the men's basketball coach at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa, and the executive director of the Black Coaches Association, puts trash talk in this light: ``Every industry has its own lingo,'' he told the Dallas Morning News about the sports-speak of the late 20th century. ``The computer business has its own lingo. Banking has its own lingo. Trash talk is the language of athletics; it's the language of the game.''

But can you call it lingo? There is a vast difference between the vocabulary and phraseology used in a sport like basketball (``post up,'' ``transition game,'' ``in the paint,'' etc.) and the mean-spirited use of language to taunt, intimidate, and belittle.

Jonathan Rand, a sports columnist at the Kansas City Star, is among those who say that Muhammad Ali was the father of modern trash-talking. ``He was the first high-profile athlete who taunted opponents before, during, and after competing,'' Rand says. With Ali, boasting and taunting were entertaining shtick. Others have picked up on Ali's style, but without the same twinkle in their eyes.

Rockets reunite dunkmasters

FANS of the Houston Rockets are excited by reunion of former basketball ``fraternity brothers'' Hakeem Olajuwon and Clyde Drexler. Memories of their previous collaboration with the University of Houston's potent Phi Slamma Jamma squad are mixed, however. Olajuwon and Drexler made the Cougars a powerhouse in the 1980s, but they fell short of leading Houston to a national championship. The closest they came, which was very close, occurred in 1983, when a flukish basket allowed North Carolina State to pull out a last-second victory over heavily favored Houston.

Now the defending National Basketball Association champions anticipate that the addition of Drexler (by means of a trade from Portland, where he wanted out) might provide the spark for a successful title defense. The Rockets find themselves trailing Utah and San Antonio in the Midwest Division.

The Rockets gave up power forward Otis Thorpe for the versatile Drexler, who is still looking to play on his first championship team, college or pro. The big question: How much will Olajuwon miss Thorpe's help on the boards?

Touching other bases

* Pop quiz: On the day that Jackie Robinson broke major-league baseball's ``color line'' on April 15, 1947, and for the remainder of that season, what position did he play? (Answer appears below.)

* Just getting to the starting line is an expensive proposition in America's Cup sailing. For the all-female America3 team to fly its new $4 million boat, Mighty Mary, from Rhode Island to San Diego reportedly cost $200,000. The new boat won its second straight race over the weekend, though opponent Stars & Stripes did not finish. OneAustralia, on the other hand, paid the price of being engineered for light winds: The $3 million Australian entry in the challenger series broke in two Sunday in heavy winds and fierce Pacific Ocean waves, possibly delaying further competition. All 17 crewmen were rescued without injury. (See photo.)

* When Barcelona, Spain, plays host to the World Track and Field Indoor Championships on March 10-12, don't expect any discussion of overall indoor/outdoor bests. That's because the sport's governing authorities don't view the two as compatible, record-wise. Outdoors, athletes benefit from longer straightaways and wind-aided performances. There is only one indoor mark, the pole vault, that is superior to the existing outdoor record - and that's very close. Ukrainian Sergey Bubka, the world record holder indoors and out, has soared 20 ft. 2 in. under a roof, a quarter inch higher than he's gone without one.

* When it comes to muscling a golf ball, Britain's Laura Davies has no peer on the women's pro tour. After this year's first three tournaments, she is averaging 274.7 yards off the tee.

* Are World Series baseballs really a prize when they've never been used, as none were for last fall's canceled Series? Centennial Sports of Eden Prairie, Minn., is selling them for $29.95 apiece. An ad carried in many major newspapers encourages fans to ``own a piece of history,'' claiming these are the most sought-after World Series baseballs ever. Among over-the-counter souvenir balls, that may be true. Rawlings makes more than 100,000 balls each year bearing the World Series logo. Few of these, are actually used in Series play. This time, mint-condition balls won't be poor cousins to those that might have been scuffed in Series action. They all will be equal partners in remembering a sad chapter in baseball history.

* Quiz answer: First base. Jackie Robinson, however, is perhaps best known as a second baseman.

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