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Whitbread Log: Leg 2,
Cape Town to Fremantle
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  Curtis was up the rig while it was shaking violently. I thought he was going to die.

Day 14 - Nov. 21, 1997

0420 GMT
47° 02'S, 095° 47'E

Miles to Fremantle: 1,292

Place: 5th; distance behind 4th-place boat: 15 miles

From: Paul Cayard, skipper EF Language

Another night of terror.

What happens out here systematically is that one small mistake leads to something bigger, which in turn leads to a disaster. It must have to do with fatigue . . . something we are all heavily effected by right now.

The grande finale in this morning's opera was a broach with Curtis up the mast and the pole and boomvang exploding. We were resetting the spinnaker, after repairing it from an earlier smaller mistake (so this whole episode should never have happened in the first place). It opened before it got to the top, the helmsman lost control and spun into the wind.

Curtis was up the rig while it was shaking violently. I thought he was going to die. We had to blow the halyard to get borne away. The spinnaker went in the water and it was all hands to get it on board while the boat was now doing 15 knots without even trying. We got Curtis down and he is OK. He won't ever forget that broach.

So, now we are back to the same situation of yesterday — sailing slow with no spinnaker up, just watching Silk Cut march on by. Hopefully we will have the pole rebuilt within 10 hours before Chessie comes by.

Life on board is a horror show. When you have a scene like that, it takes 3-4 hours just to clean up the mess. Then you start on the repairs. No one gets any sleep and meals get forgotten. We were already very tired from the last 48 hours. Now, we are hit with this.

I try to keep the big picture in mind. This is Leg 2 of a 9-leg regatta. We got a good one in on the first leg. We knew we were short on experience down here. So, now we know a little more and, yes, there is a price to pay. Still, what matters is where this all boils down next May coming down the English Channel on the way to the finish line.

So, what we have to do right now is take a time out. Two hours of nothing. Two people on deck just making minimal headway. When the pole is fixed and we have some rest we will start racing again.

Paul Cayard
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