The leg was quite satisfying, mostly because it was the second opportunity in the Southern Ocean. One of the overriding questions before we started the Whitbread was whether or not we could learn to sail the boat in the very extreme conditions of this race. There really are only are two legs that have those conditions Leg 2 and Leg 5 and having failed on 2, this was our last shot, at least in these four years, to show the we could learn how to handle the boat in the Southern Ocean.
So, really, the 140-mile lead we had at Cape Horn, to me, was the biggest part of leg, and certainly the most satisfying part. In a way, I regret that we got such a huge separation at the end, because it took away some of the focus from the good job that the team had done in the Southern Ocean. It became almost a bit of a farce, just becaue of the meteorological situation after the Horn.
It was a very satisfying experience; it was an incredible experience. There were some nights down there in the Southern Ocean that I will never forget. So, on a personal level, it's fulfilling the secondary advantage of doing a race like this, which is a personal achievement story.
Now, we're in pretty good stead. We have a bit of a lead, and no matter how this [leg] works out, we're going to have close to a 100-point lead, and we have four legs left. More than the lead, what's quite valuable to us is the fact that the boat seems to be a good all-round boat. And the crew is amalgimating really well and getting along well, so we have some strength going into the remaining four legs.
Q. After all the hype about Leg 5, was it the toughest leg for you?
A. For us, it wasn't as tough as Leg 2, but that's just because we got our act together. I think if you ask Chessie Racing how it was out there, I think they might say it was wild and crazy. I know that Grant Dalton [skipper of Merit Cup] wrote in an e-mail that he thought it was borderline and he ordered the crew to take the spinnaker down one day when they were sailing alongside Chessie and Chessie was flying out of the water. We had all those conditions and we felt this time we that we were under control.
It really is incredible how important it is to get into the rhythm, to not break the gear, and have the crew operating at full strength. If you start breaking gear, and taking guys out of the watch system, you really burn the remaining guys on the watch, and you start burning the skipper and navigator more, because they have to spend more time on deck to cover and this snowball of fatigue starts rolling on you, and then you just make more mistakes, and the more mistakes you make the prone you are to make more mistakes, and it's a vicious circle that we got caught up in on Leg 2. We didn't at all have that problem on this leg, so it seemed like smooth sailing.
Q. Were the conditions as difficult as the Leg 2 conditions?
A. It wasn't as cold. On Leg 2, we had snow for three days and we had a water temperature of 3°C. This leg, the coldest the water got was 48°F., so it was a little warmer; we only had snow once. But we had 45 knots of wind several times, 48 knots peak. We never saw that much wind on Leg 2.
Q. What about your weather routing, did you follow the same plan as before? It seemed as though you took something like a flyer there at the beginning, when you decided to hit a little bit more south, southwest, avoiding the east.
A. Early on, the issue was to deal with the high-pressure system that was centered just east of the Chatham Islands. We were kind of slow in the beginning; Silk Cut and Chessie kind of sailed away from us. I don't know if we brought too much food or too much diesel; I don't know what the story was. But we weren't going very fast, and they got three or four miles ahead, maybe Chessie was 20 miles ahead, and those guys tried to cut the corner on the high-pressure system by heading a little more southeast.
[Navigator] Mark Rudiger did a good job there, saying we needed to stay away from the center of the high. We were going quite a bit off course, because the great circle course was something like 110 [degrees] and we were sailing, at times, at 180. But in the end, there were a few a days there when we made the big catch-up, and we caught up to the leaders.
It might look like a flyer, but it was all relative to the proximity to the high. We did it on the first leg, too. We just stayed pretty far away from the center of the high. This time we did it about right. On Leg 1, we stayed too far away from the Azores High, and Merit Cup and Innovation Kvaerner got away from us there.
Q. Could you describe the rounding of Cape Horn? We've heard so much about how terrible the conditions can be there.
A. Actually, rounding Cape Horn itself wasn't very difficult or extreme. The day we went by, it was blowing about 20 knots, which is pretty mild. It was downwind with the spinnaker up. It was quite a nice morning; it was 6 a.m. local time when we went by.
So, it was more of an emotional moment, or a psychological moment, that the Southern Ocean part of the race was over. And it was an intermediary finish line, you might say, being that the Southern Ocean leg was such a big challenge for us.
We took note of the lead we had there and taked about things in general. Some of the guys remembered that many people have lost their lives going around that piece of rock. Then, we pretty much got focused on the remaining 2,000 miles, certainly not knowing what was to be our good fortune quite soon thereafter. [We] kind of refocused ourselves, said, "OK, that part's behind us, now we have to get this thing to the finish line."
So, like I said, it wasn't a huge tempest or storm when we went by, but it was certainly a significant moment in the whole race and in Leg 5.
Q. What is the difference in the crew from the first time you were in the Southern Ocean to the second time? How did they change?
A. Physically, we had one guy different. On the second leg, we took a journalist with us, who was a pretty experienced sailor, but he wasn't a helmsman. On this leg we had Curt Oetking back. Curt is from Texas, and a long-time buddy of mine from the America's Cup in '83. He's a great helmsman, so we were stronger, physically, as a team because we had Curt and his abilities at the helm.
Psychologically, after the first big blow that we got, the crew realized that this was going to be a different leg than Leg 2. We were proactive in getting sail area off the boat before the big breeze would hit us, whereas in Leg 2 we were reactive, always scaling down once the breeze had hit us.
It's really hard to send people forward to the foredeck to get the sail down and set another one when it's blowing very hard. It's much better to do that ahead of time and be all set when the breeze hits you. We had talked about this a lot. We had a good hard look at ourselves in the mirror after Leg 2. We had a crew meeting in Fremantle that wasn't pleasant, but I felt it necessary to really bring out what the weaknesses were, and what the mistakes were, and everybody thought about that quite a bit.
We had a good crew meeting in New Zealand a couple nights before leaving on this leg. We talked about our strategy, and what we were going to do, and we started to execute that early on. I think we really had a lot of confidence, as those 10 days went there were 10 days that were really windy and rough.
So, it's a confidence game. At the end of the day, we found it qutie normal to be sailing downwind in 35 knots of wind with the storm chute up and the reefed main, and the boat trucking along at 25 knots with 10-foot waves shooting up on either side of the bow. It just became normal.
Q. In general terms, do you think the harder portion of the race is finished?
A. Certainly, the Southern Ocean is the big challenge and it's what sets an around-the-world race apart from any other type of sailing that a large part of the population does, whether it's a Transpac [to Hawa|] or a Bermuda race, or even a transatlantic race. The Southern Ocean is a very unique piece of water and it can be an unmanageable beast down there. Learning how to handle your boat in those conditions is a little trick in and of itself.
Probably Leg 8, which is the transatlantic, second-to-last leg, will be the other challenging leg. You certainly can get some big breezes there going across the North Atlantic, but the systems are different up in the North Atlantic. Typically, you'll get a big breeze for 24 hours or 36 hours, but you don't get the continuous strong winds that you get in the Southern Ocean. Basically, we had it for eight days straight when we were down there.
Q. Is there ever a stage of this race where you feel really comfortable?
A. I think that is probably in Southampton [where the race finishes].
Q. You mentioned the two nights in the Southern Ocean that you won't forget in a long time. Can you expand on that a little bit? What were the circumstances?
A. One was the night that we saw an iceberg, about four in the afternoon, coming out of the fog. Most of the Southern Ocean sailing is in very dense fog like you get off Newport, Rhode Island, or that you can get in San Francisco. So, we were sailing along, you don't see much on the radar, if anything, and we couldn't see anything visually, and all of a sudden, about a couple of hundred meters to leeward, we saw a pretty big chunk of ice come out of the fog. That was a little bit intimidating. Then, about two hours later, we got a report on our Sat C that Lawrie Smith [skipper of Silk Cut] had hit an ice cube, and that kind of scary, and then his rig fell down.
All this happened in the last few hours of the afternoon, and that night I was pretty concerned. I realized we were entering the ice zone, and all that we had talked about, and everything you hear about, and you watch the nice video tapes in your office and you see the beautiful icebergs. Well, that was all different now that we were riding along in our carbon-fiber shoe box at 25 knots, flopping down the waves with a radar that really was non-existant, and thick fog and pitch-black dark. It was a scary thought.
I remember talking about it a bit with Curt. I said, "what do we do, put the jib on and take the spinnaker down, and turn left, head north?" He said, "well, we knew that there could be ice down here, and we all came down here to race, so we just have to take our chances."
So, when you're right there, right in it, it's a pretty intimidating proposition. When you start thinking about how you have a nice wife and kids, and everything's nice in Kentfield [Cayard's home town], and the fireplace is going, and you wonder a little bit, is it really worth risking all that for a sailboat race? But the bottom line really is that that becomes one of the major attractions of the experience. It the reason why you will never forget the race.
The second night that was really incredible was later on, probably two nights later. We had a perfectly clear sky. It was blowing about 35 knots, it was the night of the full moon, and the boat was blasting along about 25 knots. What was striking about it was that Curt and I were sitting on the back . . . . One thing we learned to do differently between Leg 2 and Leg 5 is we stacked all the weight in the boat aft. So, we had all the sails in the back, on deck, and we basically made like a giant sofa back there. The trimmers would even sit back there.
I was holding the mainsheet and Curt was trimming the spinnaker, and we were all behind the helmsman. I was just chatting away with Curt about the 1983 America's Cup and when we were roommates, and just telling each other stories. It was a beaut full moon, and the ocean was lit up like Candlestick Park for a Monday football game. What I realized was that right then we were living the good ol' days. That was a moment that, when we are 60, we will think back and call it the good ol' days. Things don't get better than that.
It was awesome, and it was also amazing how in control we were. We were able to sit there and chew the fat in the same conditions that in Leg 2 we were having a horror show. We were sitting back there chewing on a PowerBar and talking about the Candy Store in Newport.
Q. When you've talked lately about why you;ve done well, you often talk about management and meeting, whereas the other teams don't necessarily have meetings as much as just talk amongst themselves. Is your style quite different from that of the other teams?
A. I haven't participated in their teams that much, but my sense that there's a good possibility that our approach to the race is different. The race is going through quite an evolution that started last time with Chris Dickson and his approach. He has similar background to me, which is the dinghy racing and the developing of the boats and of sails, and pushing really hard there, pushing the boat really hard 24 hours a day, and I see maybe we're organized and working on the land also in a different way than the other teams.
I would expect the race to evolve that way. I would expect that some people are going to get organized here in the next year or so and spend two or three years training for the next Whitbread. I certainly see a lot of potential speed available if soneone had a well-organized and well-funded program to be able to start soon.
Q. It's interesting, because you're sort of paralleling what Dennis Conner did in the America's Cup 15 years ago, are you not?. (Note: This is a follow-up to the previous question.)
A. Yes, it's similar. That's the evolution . . . I would say that's a similar parallel.
Q. I have two questions about Chessie Racing. What was your take on them at the start, and what is your take on them now? The second question is, what's your opinion of the comments that have been coming from Toshiba, and particularly Grant Dalton [skipper of Merit Cup], regarding the stop that Chessie made?
A. My opinion about Chessie is that Chessie is quite possibly the fastest boat out here. I see that every once in awhile when they're riding well on four wheels and everything is under control and they're going well. They're really quite fast, and my suspicion is they might be the fastest hull out there. Not that it's a huge difference than ourselves, but they are quick.
I think the reasons for their up-and-down finishes is more managerial and leadership oriented. Just not having enough continuity in the skipper role, I think, has been one of their problems. In the future, I know [AmericaOne tactician] John Kostecki is going to sail with them. I think they're going to be a strong player in the second half.
As far as what they did, as far as I can tell, it's allowed and perfectly legal in the rules to stop within one mile of the coast line and get outside assistance. Whether or not philosophically that should be allowed, that's a whole subject of discussion, and probably will get discussed a lot after the race is finished. But the rules as they are now allow for that, and they took advantage of that, just like Innovation Kvaerner did on Leg 3. I can't see anything wrong with that.
As far as e-mails go, I haven't read any of them, but I have heard about them, and I've heard there's been a lot of rhetoric from the public. I'm sure [Toshiba and Merit Cup] are very frustrated. It's obvious that Toshiba and Merit Cup did a much better job than Chessie and BrunelSunergy in the Southern Ocean, which, as sailors, we kind of see as the focus of this leg. It's misleading, because from Cape Horn to up here is a long, long way. It's 2,000 miles. It's actually 2,000 miles of the trickiest meteorological conditions you can get.
It's complicated, but there's a big high-pressure system off Chile that every once in a while lets a bubble go. The bubble slides east into the area between the Horn and the Falkland Islands, and sits there for awhile, and then it starts migrating north. If the timing for all that is bad for you, it can be really bad. And that's what happened to [Toshiba and Merit Cup].
So, they're frustrated, and in that case, the e-mails that we do can be dangerous. You have to be careful not to bare all your emotions, certainly things you might regret having said when you get back to land and put it all into perspective.
The following is a brief interchange between Carol Pogash, of the official Whitbread Web site, and Paul Cayard:
Carol Pogash: Grant Dalton, in particular . . . he's never used the word "cheat," but he's said some pretty harsh things, and made a lot of very snide comments about, well, "we should have just pretended we had a problem and pulled in."
Paul Cayard: What was the advantage of pulling in?
Carol Pogash: The advantage, I guess, was that Chessie got see the other boats sailing into a hole, and when they finished their stop, they took the other route.
Paul Cayard: How long was Chessie stopped?
Carol Pogash: 55 minutes.
Paul Cayard: 55 minutes is not what made the difference for them being able to see the other guys in the hole or not. It was the the fact that they were 300 miles behind in the Southern Ocean and [Toshiba and Merit Cup] were two days ahead of them and parked in the hole. And when [Chessie] came along two days later, they could see away around the hole with the wind stronger out to the east. So, it's because they stopped that Chessie could benefit from [Toshiba and Merit Cup] falling in a hole.
What I would say is Chessie being allowed to stop allowed them to resume racing in a proper way, because they were able to fix their generator, and make water, and eat, and do all those things that would have, obviously, slowed them down had they not been able to stop.
Carol Pogash: He was also complaining that BrunelSunergy was getting in the way of the serious players.
Paul Cayard: I'm glad I didn't say that.
Q. What about the boat? Has it gone through anything beyond just normal wear and tear? How has it been holding up?
A. The boat seems to be holding up very well. We are doing a thorough check of it now. The rig came down yesterday and the boat just got hauled out a couple hours ago. We're doing a very thorough check of the laminate to make sure that the core is still well bonded to the skins.
The boats take an incredible beating, even downwind. They basically leap off the waves and land in the trough in front, and the pounding and shaking and vibrating is unbelieveable. The [Whitbread design] rule is pretty well written, because these things seem to be taking the beating quite well. So far we haven't found anything.
We'd like to change our rig in Ft. Lauderdale, because we think these rigs are getting quite a bit of stress more than anybody thought prior to the race, more than the engineers of the mast thought. A few of our competitors have changed rigs now, so we feel we should take the same precautions.
We have a few new sails. We actually have quite a few sail cards left, so we're reloading on the sail inventory here. I think we are in good shape. We need to take all the precautions we can at this point with our position.
Q. How's the crew doing? Are they holding up as well as the boat?
A. The crew is doing well. We have our little nicks, cuts and bruises here and there. I try not to write too much about it, because I know it upsets the families. We had one guy Josh Belsky from Connecticut who pierced his leg, and we had to put nine staples in him one night. It was a bit gory. It was a big chunk of flesh hanging wide open. It was not pleasant to look at, and we had to keep him down below for about four days.
Another guy was up the rig in the middle of the night stropping off the spinnaker, and everything was fine, and he was just on his way down, and we bellied we went launching off a wave and the boat slammed down on the wave in front of it, and his face got slammed into the mast and he lost a tooth. So, there are little nicks and bruises like that, but nothing major.
Q.For the past two decades, Dennis Conner has been the most visible and most well-known skipper in the United States. With your success in the Whitbread, and as Conner's helmsman in the '95 Cup, do you feel that you and other skippers may be getting a more equitable share of attention?
A. I don't know. I'll have to wait and see the USA Today article. You can decide that.