Whitbread: Paul Cayard Reports
Continued Training and Round Gotland Race; Fastnet Race Is Next
GOTHENBERG, Sweden (July 11, 1997) The EF Team has just come back from another five-day offshore training mission. With both the sail designer, Rob Hook, and shoreside sail coordinator, Paul Murray, on board, this session was devoted to the complicated sail program.
We ran 160 tests during the period in winds ranging from 3 to 40 knots .
The Whitbread 60s have fractional jibs, fractional reachers, masthead reachers, asymmetrical spinnakers, staysails and mainsails. Knowing what size, what geometry, what shape, and then what wind speed and wind angle to use each one, is a lot of work. Having two identical boats, as we have, is a big advantage for the sail development.
We ran 160 tests during the period in winds ranging from 3 to 40 knots, using everything from the drifter to the blast reacher and main with one reef. All the sails have their moments. The key is to select an inventory that is not too specialized and that covers the bases well. Then you develop the sails within this inventory, making them better each time. The development really never stops. Just because the race starts on Sept. 21 doesn't mean that our sails won't have to get better during the race.
Round Gotland Race
Last week we sailed in the Round Gotland Race, Scandanavia's biggest annual offshore race. It starts in Sandham, an island off Stockholm, Sweden, and goes south around the island of Gotland and back. To make the racers finish closer together, the bigger boats do a longer course 510 miles and the small boats simply go down around Gotland and back 400 miles.
This year's race was a record breaker, with an average course speed of 10.7 knots for Nicorette, the Swedish Grand Mistral 80. The record breaking included the Whitbread 60s, with the EF Team racing both of our older boats, Galicia and Interim, which also beat the old record of 9.5 knots.
Swedish Match, one of this year's Whitbread entries, finished just 8 minutes ahead of Galicia, which sailed with old sails. Either Swedish Match was sandbagging or it was revealing undesirable signs. Bruce Farr, the designer of most of the Whitbread 60s, predicts the new fleet will go about one percent faster than the older boats. For 50 hours, this would be 30 minutes. Right after the race, Swedish Match went into a shed in Gothenberg for some work. We will see.
Fastnet Race Is Next
The program for the rest of the summer for EF is to do two more five- to seven-day offshore training sessions before the August 9 Fastnet Race. The notorious Fastnet will be attended by most of this year's Whitbread fleet, and while most will not show their best shoes, it will be none the less interesting.
After that it's back to Sweden for two weeks, getting final preparations made, and then to Ocean Village in Southampton on Sept. 1 as we gear up for the start of the 32,000-mile ocean marathon.
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