Paul Cayard, the first American skipper to win the Whitbread.
SOUTHAMPTON, ENGLAND MAY 24, 1998 Crossing the finish line at 1211 GMT today in England, where it all began eight months and 31,600 miles ago, Paul Cayard and the crew of EF Language (EFL) won the prestigious Whitbread Round the World Race. Founded in 1973, the Whitbread is considered one of the toughest challenges in round the world racing. Winning with a resounding 138 point lead, Cayard became the first American skipper to win the race. On board Chessie Racing, John Kostecki finished in 6th place overall. Both skippers are leading AmericaOne, the San Francisco-based challenger for the 2000 America’s Cup.
Cayard credited the race win to teamwork and thorough preparation. At the race finish he commented, “Winning is just the icing on the cake. The race has been the most unusual and exceptional sporting experience of my life. Whenever you can win anything this big you’ve got to savor it. It’s a great race for sure.” Although EF Language was a Swedish entry, the crew had a high number of Americans onboard – all enlisted by Cayard. Though the team was not a race favorite at the start, it has disproved the myth that Americans do not have the offshore experience for the Whitbread.
EF Language took the overall lead after the 1st leg and relinquished it only once after Leg 2. Finishes of 1-5-1-4-1-2-3-6-2 gave the team a podium position in six of the nine legs. With the points system that was in place, EF Language had a substantial lead and had unofficially won the race after Leg 8 -- another first in the race’s history. Kostecki was helmsman aboard Chessie Racing for legs 3,4,6,7,8 and 9, and was generally credited for improving the team’s overall performance.
The Whitbread race read like a book for EF Language:
- Leg 1: Skipper and crew began the race in Southampton as 16-1 longshots and with a new navigator they enlisted at the 11th hour. They led out of the Solent at the start and after thirty days of good tactical sailing, they crossed the finish line of the 7,350-mile leg in first place.
- On Leg 2, the first foray into the Southern Ocean, EFL took a pounding, lost some sails overboard and damaged gear. But at the stopover in Fremantle, they reviewed their mistakes, regrouped and set out to improve their performance.
- Leg 3 to Sydney was close and competitive, with EFL crossing the finish line at the Sydney Opera House five minutes ahead of the 2nd place boat.
- Leg 4, EFL led the fleet at the start from Sydney. Several lead changes ensued as the crews positioned themselves strategically with the passing weather systems enroute to Auckland. EFL finished fourth, but was back in the lead overall.
- Leg 5 around Cape Horn took EFL back in to the Southern Ocean, though this time they had learned to throttle back when necessary to keep the boat in one piece. They rounded the Horn ahead and continued to stretch their lead. Navigator Mark Rudiger wrote, “Now we know that with almost a 400-mile lead, the hundreds of little unknowns are just lurking, waiting to rain on our parade. We have to be extra cautious about every decision and maneuver and go over the rig and steering with a fine tooth comb”. EFL finished the leg 500 miles and several days ahead.
- Leg 6 from Brazil through the equatorial doldrums, was another tactical leg. EFL led for a good part of the 6,700-mile leg; in the end, they chased in the lead boat for a 2nd place finish.
- Leg 7 from Ft. Lauderdale, provided some of the toughest conditions of the race, with the prevailing northeast breeze against the Gulf Stream current – boats and crews had a punishing 800+ mile sail up the East Coast of the U.S. before heading up the Chesapeake Bay. EFL was neck-in-neck with the 2nd place boat, finishing just 30 seconds behind in 3rd place.
- Leg 8 across the North Atlantic was a 3,400-mile match-race for EFL, who needed to stay in the “same area code” as Swedish Match to retain her overall 1st place position, which they did.
- Leg 9 was a victory lap for the crew of EF Language, as the team had already clinched the race by the finish of Leg 8. However, the team was extremely competitive to the end, finishing in 2nd place in the closely contested final leg.
Cayard’s experience as a leader is well known and although this was his first “extended” ocean race, he proved himself and kept the crew focused on keeping the boat going fast and safe. At the race start in September he had written, “It is time to go. We have a great group of guys who have worked really hard for the nine months to get ready. Racing around our planet will be one of the biggest achievements in my life.”
In addition to providing exceptional exposure on the Internet, print and broadcast, the Whitbread Race has provided Cayard with the opportunity to be able to keep several facets of his America’s Cup campaign actively engaged. In addition to sailing with a core crew, he is working with Robert Hook, a sail design team member and Roger “Clouds” Badham, the team’s meteorologist.
With the Whitbread concluded, Cayard will turn his full attention to AmericaOne. He and AmericaOne tactician John Kostecki will be sailing in several grand-prix and match-racing events over the next several months. Events on their schedule include the following:
- May/June Newport-Manhattan 1D48 Event
- June Maxi World Championship, Newport, RI
- June Round Gotlund Race, Sweden
- June Swedish Match Race, Marstrand, Sweden
- July/August Kenwood Cup, Hawa|
- Sept Sardinia Cup
- Oct Bermuda Gold Cup
- Nov Steinlager Cup Match Race Grand Prix
- Dec Malaysia Challenge Grand Prix
AmericaOne will be selecting additional crew members later this year, with a testing program scheduled for NZ in January/February 1999. The team plans to begin construction of their new boats in December 1998.
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View the Leg 9 photos.