Woman Sailor Leaves The Men In Her Wake

* Isabelle Autissier knows how to compete against men - she beats them.

On Oct. 23, the Frenchwoman sailed into Cape Town, South Africa, 1,200 miles ahead of the nearest man in the BOC Challenge, an around-the-world solo-sailing race that started in Charleston, S.C., on Sept. 17.

Autissier built up the advantage in large measure because she gauged the weather better than the other racers, who spent a lot of time becalmed in the Atlantic along the 6,500-mile route.

With her huge lead over American Steve Pettingill, the nearest of 17 male competitors, she says, ``I will not have to take too much risk in the Southern Ocean,'' where the next two legs will be sailed. With its gales and monster seas that can reach 50 ft., it is already a risky place.

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