Ultimate Success for Paul CayardBy Bob Fisher
May 25, 1998
"People who are as competitive as I am, always expect to win." It was a simple statement of fact made by Paul Cayard within minutes of finishing the Whitbread Round the World Race in Southampton's Ocean Village. He was talking about the race as a whole, and while admitting that he was surprised to have won the opening leg to Cape Town, he felt that the impetus of his campaign was such that it should have had a very good chance of success.
Paul Cayard, the winning skipper.
He admitted that he was a touch disappointed not to have finished the race in style, by winning the final sprint leg of 480 miles from La Rochelle, but had to be content to finish fifteen minutes after Grant Dalton in Merit Cup, in second place. He knew that he had already won the race before the last leg started, but there was no doubt that the EF Language crew gave their all on the last leg; sleep was not part of the equation for two days.
"My patience has expanded," said Paul, the first American skipper to win the Whitbread, "as a result of this race." He went on to explain that the strategies which he had employed didn't always show results immediately. Many of the decisions were taken after long consultations with Mark Rudiger, the navigator who has become a key player in Cayard's team. They were chess game-style decisions, made with an ultimate strategy three plays or more away.
Praise for the way Paul Cayard has conducted his campaign flowed from all sides, but none more generously given and sincere that that of Dennis Conner. "I would like to take this opportunity to say how proud I am of Paul Cayard. I have been a fan of his for a long time. He sailed with me on the Stars and Stripes in the last America's Cup. He's won the biggest prize in yachting. A lot of people don't know what that is and that's the Star World Championships. After many years of competing against the top order of the America's Cup and winning a lot of championships, I think that it's time in sailing that he got this well-deserved victory and good on you Paul."
Paul was gracious in victory. "It's a special moment, for sure. To win the race was extra special and I am sure it has not all sunk in yet, and I know from having been in a lot of big races like Dennis said, that it takes a certain amount of luck to do what we did on EF Language.
"We are happy and I would like to congratulate the competitors. A race isn't worth winning unless the people you are racing against are really tough and very good. We have a full line-up here of highly credentialled skippers and crews and support teams and that makes the victory worth winning."
He continued, "I know that my background really helped me in this raise this offshore sailing more than my lack of experience hurt me. My background in two-boat testing and sail development, and just maximising the use of every minute I have at my disposal, and my team's mentality being the same was the key factor for us to win.
"For me, winning an offshore race like this really widens my career. I've been a buoy sailor, an America's Cup sailor, an Olympics sailor, all my life for 30 years. Now, I was very fortunate to win an offshore race and so, I think that when I look back on my career when I am a little older, I will be very happy to have been so well rounded."
Of all his crew, Paul will be happiest for Magnus Olsson, the man who convinced him to join Team EF in the first place, but who, at 49 years old, has completed his fourth, and probably last, race around the world. It was his first victory. "I can't quite believe it yet. The world will never be the same again. It has been fantastic. EF has been as close to a perfect campaign as you can get," he said, the ever present smile on his face becoming broader by the minute.
For Kimo Worthington, the victory on EF Language placed him in a unique position for an American, "This puts me in an elite group of sailors who have won the Whitbread Race and the America's Cup." It is one which his skipper will be keen to emulate with AmericaOne.
Bob Fisher is a renowned nautical scribe living in Lymington, England.
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