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Whitbread Log: Leg 3,
Fremantle to Sydney
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  This leg is shaping up to be a tricky one. Dealing with the transient high-pressure in the Australian bight will be difficult at best.
Pre-Race - Dec. 11, 1997

0346 GMT
Fremantle, Australia

From: Paul Cayard, skipper EF Language

We are in the final stages of preparation here in Fremantle for the restart on Saturday.

Sail measurement has been going on since Monday and there have been a lot of masthead reachers measured in. Following EF Language's win on Leg 1, there was quite a stir around the docks about our masthead reacher. Dalton said he wanted one, Chessie made one that was illegal and did not measure, and Lawrie Smith claimed to be responsible for the existence of ours, but, strangely, did not have one like it himself.

Here in Fremantle, it has been the onslaught of the reachers. All the competitors have had their sail designers busy working during the 2nd leg making new sails. Every team now has at least one. Smith's Silk Cut has produced five and measured in three. Dalton replaced his upper shrouds to give more stiffness to the mast when his masthead reacher is up. Everyone is going through the developmental process that we went through last summer with that sail. Hopefully there are still a few things for them to figure out. We have to keep pushing forward trying to keep some edge, albeit a smaller one.

This leg is shaping up to be a tricky one. Dealing with the transient high-pressure in the Australian bight will be difficult at best. The likelihood of getting swept east by a nice cold front doesn't look very strong. Rather, the odds are that we will be beating or close reaching in moderate to light easterlies from Cape Leeuwin on the southwest corner all the way to Cape Otway on the southeast corner some 1600 miles away. After that there should be a windward leg up the east coast of Oz, staying close to the bricks to avoid the southerly current and picking up light sea breezes.

After the start here in Freo, we will leave Rotnest to port and head south to Cape Naturalist and Cape Leeuwin. This should be a windward leg of about 170 miles in 15-25 knots. We are looking forward to seeing how we perform relative to the others in this stability-dependent sailing.

Rudi and I are trying to figure out if we can get a bit of a schedule for sleeping this time. Typically, we both spend too much energy in the first 30 hours and then there is a low while we both recharge. The problem is that the first part of the race usually requires both of us and this leg will be no different. There will constantly be decisions that need to be made and land to be avoided for the first 170 miles and the last 270 miles. All I can say is that we are conscious of the demands and trying to figure something out.

This stopover has been good. We are ready to go, calm, unrushed here in the last days. We are studying the weather four hours a day with Clouds, aka Roger Badham. He is from Oz, so we don't want to let him down on this leg.

AmericaOne tactician John Kostecki is here and sailing the leg with Chessie Racing. John is fresh from his win in the Malaysia Challenge Match Race Grand Prix, where he beat up on Ed Baird, one of the PACT 2000 sailors from New York, and several other top-ranked match racers and America's Cup hopefuls. I think the changes Chessie is making, including bringing John on board, will significantly increase their performance.

Another Star World Champion is coming to the race, Torben Grael. He is sailing the leg with Kvaerner. (I have been asked by the Kvaerner people to stop calling their boat Verne). I think it is good to see this level of sailor coming to the Whitbread and it is just a sign of the direction this event is going in — closer racing. So, now with Ross MacDonald and myself, there are three Star World Champions in the race. I am sure that makes all of our Star buddies happy.

Today is my son Danny's 9th birthday, so a big Happy Birthday, Danny, from Josh, Stevie, Kimo, Parker and all of your buddies down here in Oz. See you soon, Dad.

It is HOT down here . . . 37C or 98F. For those of you who did the Cup down here, I am sure you don't miss the flies.

That is it for the news today.

END EFL, Paul Cayard, land correspondent

Paul Cayard
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