e have just finished our third day of sailing on Gage Roads off
Fremantle, Western Australia. It feels good to be at this stage of
readiness, 5 full days before the start of leg 3. We were not in the
same shape a week prior to the restart in Cape Town, despite being
With a large work list following leg 2, the crew of EF Language did
not pause for one day of rest upon completing the 4,600-mile 16-day
trek from Cape Town to Fremantle. Instead, EF Language pulled her
mast out within two hours of the finish and pulled the boat out of
the water at 0800 the next morning, getting a head start on her two
closest predecessors on arrival, Toshiba and Silk Cut.
Added to the long list of work, EF Language was scheduled for a
complete bottom paint job. The EF shore team, led by Tim Smythe, got
right into it as well. Upon inspecting the mast that first night, we
found that we had a dimpled third spreader. Magnus Olson, Justin
Clougher and Dave White from the shore team completely disassembled
and rebuilt our mast in three days.
Five sails had to have major
surgery. Marco Constant, Mark Christensen, along with Paul Murray
and Sam from the short team, worked for five days to get the sails
back in shape. Klas Nylof had to rebuild the generator, relocate
and rebuild the heater, and put in a new bilge pump. The bottom was
finished and the boat was back in the water with the mast up by
With things under our control, and complete knowledge of the extent
of the work remaining, the Language crew took three days off.
Steve Erickson, Marco and Curt Oetking (we can't pronounce it either,
so we call him Edward King) went to Margaret River, which is the wine
country of WA. Others went on similar trips, many went to the beach.
Kimo stayed in his incubator and I took some time to catch up on a
few letters and things that had been on my to-do list for months.
Everyone was back at 0800 Friday, December 5. Full crew practice was
the agenda for the following three days, finishing today. The new
sails arrived Friday, as well, so we got to check them out. All is in
Sailing on Gage Roads again was fun and brought back many memories
of the fantastic America's Cup held in these waters in 1986-87. The
breeze blows 18-30 knots every day, the water is bright blue, the sun is
strong, and the sailing is the best!
As for our schedule this stopover, while it was a bit punishing, I
really like being on the front foot. So far the only other
competitor who has sailed are Silk Cut for two days and Toshiba for
three hours. Everyone else has yet to sail and Merit [Cup] is still
out of the water with the mast down. Also, the next stopover in
Sydney through Christmas and New Year will be very short. I want us
to be ahead on maintenance and spares so we don't get trapped by the
The last week before restart can be quite hectic. The press want
interviews, speeches need to be made, dinners are held. Squeezing in
your work is not the way to prepare. Tomorrow we start our daily
weather study with Roger Badham, aka "Clouds." It is nice to be able
to focus on that at least three hours per day for the week before
We will wet-sand the bottom for three hours tomorrow.
Tuesday will be a day off. Wednesday, scrutineering (controls by the
race officials) and loading the boat. Thursday, full crew practice
and final check. Friday, loading personal gear, packing our
belongings, and putting them in the containers for Sydney and
relaxing. Saturday . . . full RACE!
I have not always been this prepared when I have done well, but I
would say that usually people do well when they are well prepared
and not in a chaotic rush the day before an important race. We will
be checking that theory once again.
I think the next leg will be quite exciting for you to follow. The
fleet should be closer than the first two legs and there is the
potential for a restart down near the southeastern corner of
Australia as we go from the south westerlies to normal easterlies
[off] the east coast of OZ. So, the leader will never feel
comfortable about this one until it is in the bank.
I am looking forward to getting racing again and the opportunity to
improve our position. I know you are all getting ready for the
holiday season, but stay tuned for some great racing from Down Under
starting on Saturday, December 13 [night of 12 December, U.S. time].