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Whitbread Log: Leg 3,
Fremantle to Sydney
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  . . . I heard a loud bang. We looked out the companionway and saw that the ring in the clew of the main had blown off.
Day 3 - Dec. 15, 1997

0810 GMT
36° 37'S, 120° 45'E

Miles to Sydney: 1,652

Place: 6th; distance behind
1st-place boat: 7.2 miles

From: Paul Cayard, skipper EF Language

The fleet has left the shore of South Western Australia. We are all heading about 125M [degrees magnetic] while the course to Cape Otway is 109M at 1,125 miles. This is the entrance to Bass Straight, which is the water between Tasmania and the Big Island.

In preparing for this leg, we had several different weather models to analyze and one of them said that hard south would pay after 5 days. Most of the others suggested a route near great circle, which we are all south of now.

It is all very technical to understand this weather stuff, so I won't bore you with all the details, but basically the weather always changes and a forecast is just that, not the gospel. So, you are out here in your little boat trying to figure out which way to go. North right now means slower boat speed because it is close to the wind. South is faster, but it is also longer and where will you end up? The easy thing would be if everyone just followed the lead guy, but they don't. So, in the end, you have to place your bets and see where the chips fall. We are betting on north of where this group is going.

The wind has dropped a bit, down to 17 knots average, and the seas have smoothed a lot. This makes for good sleeping, which everyone is catching up on. The first 40 hours of this leg were as tough sailing as I have done. Tacking every hour and shifting all the sails and internal cargo is a full work out, especially in a seaway when you can't keep your balance. For Rudi and I, it was also a navigational workout with the rocks and reefs.

This morning, just as I had gotten my gear off and was going to go down for my first sleep in 24 hours, I heard a loud bang. We looked out the companionway and saw that the ring in the clew of the main had blown off. The clew was flapping around haplessly. Gear back on and on deck — three minutes. We had the first reef led, so quickly we put the first reef in and got control of the sail. A repair was effectuated and we were on our way with a full main 15 minutes later.

Sometimes, this is a real tough race.

Paul Cayard

Leg 3 positions at 1200 GMT today:
  1. Toshiba
  2. Chessie Racing (J. Kostecki, tactician)
  3. Swedish Match
  4. Silk Cut
  5. Merit Cup
  6. EF Language (P. Cayard, skipper)
  7. BrunelSunergy
  8. EF Education
  9. Innovation Kvaerner
* Aggregate points total, including points scored for the first and second legs and points for the third leg according to current positions.

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