Gearing Up for the Round the World Race
SAN FRANCISCO, California (May 1, 1997) Skipper Paul Cayard and his Team EF crew have completed two training sessions in Europe in preparation for the grueling nine-leg, 32,000-mile race around the planet. A 2,000-mile qualifier sail is scheduled for June, followed by a third training session in August.
In the most recent session, Cayard and crew sailed from Faro, Portugal, to Southampton, England, an uphill beat of some 1,300 miles. The trip proved valuable in a number of ways, from experiencing first-hand the role ocean currents will play, to evaluating deck layouts, to the clothing that proved useful, to what freeze-dried food they found palatable.
"For me personally it was a real learning experience," Cayard says. "As skipper, I'll be sharing navigator duties with Nick White, and in one difficult situation where I had to get us around some submerged rocks, but still sail the shortest distance, the pressure was on me in the same way that I'm usually putting pressure on my navigator."
The most valuable lessons were in realizing how important it will be to handle the currents properly. "The final leg will be from La Rochelle, France, to Southampton, England, and the current in the English Channel will be a huge factor," Cayard says. "Having that experience and the software to help pick the best route will be critical, because that leg could be for all the marbles."
Included in the internationally flavored Team EF crew are Kimo Worthington, Steve Erickson, and Josh Belsky of the United States; Magnus Olsson and Klas Nylof of Sweden; Francesco de Angelis and Lorenzo Mazza of Italy; Nick White and Mark Christensen of New Zealand; Justin Clougher of Australia; and Curtis Blewitt of Canada. Marine photographer and Whitbread veteran Rick Tomlinson will be sailing two of the nine legs. Providing shoreside support are veteran sail designer Robert Hook and meteorologist Roger Badham.
Those who will continue with Cayard's America's Cup sailing team are Worthington, Erickson, Belsky and Blewitt. Hook and Badham are already members of the AmericaOne design team.
Team EF will launch its two new boats on May 17 in Sweden. That will be followed by an intensive two-boat testing program to evaluate sails, deck and rigging configurations, and keel designs.
Landing Nick White was a great coup for Cayard and Team EF. White was the navigator and weather analyst on board the winning W-60 Yamaha for the second half of the 1993-94 ocean marathon. He was also the meteorologist for the TAG Heuer America's Cup campaign in 1995.
"The Whitbread navigator today needs a thorough knowledge of computer science, together with a great ability to analyze the weather, make an accurate forecast and use it in the routing of the boat," says Cayard. "Nick White has all this, as well as the experience of having sailed a Whitbread race before."
The round-the-world race is scheduled to start on Sept. 21 off the Royal Yacht Squadron in Cowes, England, and it will finish at Southampton in May, 1998.
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