"The Boys Came to Race": Cayard On Board EF Language Locks Up Whitbread Round the World Race; Has Insurmountable Lead Over 2nd Place Boat
LA ROCHELLE, FRANCE May 17, 1998 After racing over 31,000 miles around the world, Paul Cayard and the crew of EF Language have accumulated enough points overall at the end of Leg 8 to ensure a race victory with still one leg to go (officially, the boat must sail Leg 9 to complete the race).
Cayard reports, "We have to complete the last leg according to the rules and we will try to finish the Whitbread as we started – first in, first out." Helmsman John Kostecki, on Chessie Racing took a 3rd place podium position in this leg, to move into 4th place overall.
Leg 8 took the fleet from Annapolis, Maryland, across the North Atlantic to La Rochelle, France. With the nearest competitor Swedish Match within striking distance in the overall scoreboard, EF Language had to apply their best match-racing strategy and covered their opponent. Cayard implemented this tactic at the start and tenaciously stuck to the plan through the entire 3,400-mile leg.
As Cayard explained, "So, our game is once again back to 'stay between the man and the hoop.' The best for us is to be in sight of them and to stick close to them so as to limit the possibility of getting boats between us."
The route, seemingly a "hop across the pond,” provided its fair share of adventure. On their second day out, EF Language's main and spare water pumps broke, threatening the crew with a lack of fresh water vital to their hydration and food preparation.
That problem resolved, they headed north with the fleet through the Grand Banks and into the "ice zone". The crew would need to be vigilant as they navigated through this risky area in an attempt to save time and miles on their competition.
As Cayard commented, "I discussed the risks with the crew and they were all for going ahead. The boys came to race!" Though EF Language had worked its way up to 3rd place, the crew were forced to cover Swedish Match and stay "in the same area code," as the rest of the fleet sailed their own race.
Kostecki, on Chessie Racing, port-tacked the fleet at the start and led down the Chesapeake Bay. Chessie sailed south first, then took what appeared to be a flyer by heading far north of the fleet to better position themselves. For nine days they were at the back of the pack, over 200 miles behind the leader.
By Day 10, a ridge of high pressure slowed most of the fleet down, compressing the backmarkers. Their tactics paid off as a low-pressure system brought in a westerly breeze to the northernmost boats first, and Chessie made significant advances, moving up to 3rd place.
Kostecki said, "We never gave up. The crew was very upbeat. We had a good time, always maintained our composure and kept fighting. We always knew there were opportunities to catch up."
EF Language finished Leg 8 with 744 points overall, and is 115 points ahead of the 2nd place boat overall. Chessie Racing has 583 points, to put them in 4th place overall, within striking distance of both the 3rd and 2nd place boats.
While the multi-talented Cayard continues to prove his skills in the offshore sailing arena, he is concurrently fielding a San Francisco-based America's Cup challenge, AmericaOne. This syndicate is the St. Francis Yacht Club's challenger for the 2000 America's Cup. Cayard is both skipper and CEO of AmericaOne; John Kostecki, is the AmericaOne tactician.
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