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Whitbread Log: Leg 3,
Fremantle to Sydney
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  When you go from slatting to 10 knots of boat speed and back to slatting every ten minutes — as has been the case for five hours now — it is just as physical as tacking.
Day 5 - Dec. 17, 1997

Report #2

1749 GMT
38° 38'S, 129° 43'E

Miles to Sydney: 1,210

Place: 4th; distance behind 1st-place boat: 7.2 miles

From: Paul Cayard, skipper EF Language

It was all going too well. We were stretching our lead on the competition, the sailing was easy and then the big black hole.

We have been struggling this whole sked to get through the high-pressure ridge that is moving across our race course. Hopefully, everyone else is getting it too. This is always the nerve-racking part of offshore sailing . . . not knowing what you competitors have. You always imagine the worst . . . they are flying along at 12 knots while you are doing 4.

The next sked will be very interesting. My guess is that Toshiba makes a big gain as that group to the north should get the ridge last. Hopefully we will all get hit equally by this thing.

Long term, looks like better pressure to the south. We will continue that way after we break through the ridge and into the southwesterlies. Eventually, the wind should go to the northwest so the boats to the south will have the good angle for going east-northeast to the Bass Strait.

When you go from slatting to 10 knots of boat speed and back to slatting every ten minutes — as has been the case for five hours now — it is just as physical as tacking. You have to shift all the gear from side to side and ballast the boat constantly. It is night now, so harder to see the wind and predict the puffs and shifts.

I was sitting on the leeward rail a few hours ago, talking to Josh as we were slatting with the drifter, and he said, "It is amazing to think that this is the same race we were in four weeks ago? I mean, we were cart wheeling down the southern ocean and now we are slatting." I guess when you sail around the planet you see it all . . . several times over.

----------------------------- red rule ------------------------------

  This horse can smell the barn. It is hoofin' as fast as it can.

Report #1

0903 GMT
38° 38'S, 129° 43'E

Miles to Sydney: 1,210

Place: 1st; distance ahead of 2nd-place boat: 12 miles

From: Paul Cayard, skipper EF Language

Looks like the middle is working out pretty well for us for now. Back on the top of the heap.

The wind has gone around to south and we still have good pressure — 14 knots. There is a cold front that came over us a few hours ago, which is keeping this pressure up. We expect the wind speed to drop and go more right to SSW as the front moves away.

For now, we are heading right at our way point, which is Cape Otway, the western entrance to Bass Straight. It bears 94M [degrees magnetic] at 682NM [nautical miles]. This seems like a good time to sail as fast as you can right at the mark. Swedish Match, who is second, has sailed a more southerly course and we have lost sight of them after sailing close to them for 24 hours. It was nice to be close to someone, but we don't feel that going south now will pay.

We expect that when the high ridges in we will all be running in less wind and being further away from the mark will not help. So, we are into "miles at the barn" mode. This horse can smell the barn. It is hoofin' as fast as it can.

Life on board is great. Easy sailing for 24 hours. Not too cold. Everyone is well rested and in good spirits, with the results being what they are. Rudi and I are working hard on the weather, hoping to find something significant to go for, but so far have not. We move our clocks forward 1 hour every other day when easting this fast. So, the two six-hour watches become 5 1/2. That makes the day go by fast. Seems like the food just keeps coming at you.

Naturally, the two guys closest to us in the race are at both extremes of the pack on this leg; Verne [Innovation Kvaerner] all the way south, Silk all the way north. I guess you'd expect that. It just spices things up.

Really, things are very close, and considering the spread of the fleet — over 150 miles north to south — the weather will make all the difference. If nothing major happens, we will all arrive at Bass Straight in a tight pack and save the excitement for the beat up the east coast of OZ.

That's all for now.

Paul Cayard


Leg 3 positions at 1200 GMT today:
      BoatPoints*Position
Overall
  1. EF Language (P. Cayard, skipper)
  2. Swedish Match
  3. Toshiba
  4. Chessie Racing (J. Kostecki, tactician)
  5. Silk Cut
  6. Innovation Kvaerner
  7. Merit Cup
  8. EF Education
  9. BrunelSunergy
302
253
238
202
228
257
198
90
56
1
3
4
6
5
2
7
8
9
* 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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