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Whitbread Log: Leg 4, Sydney to Auckland----------------------------- red rule ------------------------------
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Paul Cayard Paul Cayard Celebrates
Wrap-Up - Jan. 15, 1998

Place: 4th

From: Paul Cayard, skipper EF Language

Sorry I did not wind things up coming into Auckland, but the last 24 hours were spent on the rail, and then there was the usual down time upon hitting the dock. Thirty-six hours after arrival, EF Language and EF Education were back out on the ocean testing sails. Sails are a big part of what has got us where we are and I want to keep pushing forward as we head into the second half of the lap around the planet.

Sailing on the Tube Leg 4 was both frustrating and finally fulfilling for EF Language. We won our third start and led the fleet out Sydney Heads. We felt in control and proceeded to execute our plan according to a pre-race strategy. Unfortunately for us, the weather that our strategy was based on did not pan out and we found ourselves in a hole with the boats to the south passing and making large gains. Once we figured out what was going on, we made a strong move to the south — a very strong move — and got ourselves in a lane that had some blue sky (no pun intended). This put us back into the middle of the fleet approaching the northern Capes of New Zealand.

Black Holes
Swedish Match, leg leader and our closest rival overall, fell victim of a hole five miles offshore. Each yacht that followed cut inshore a little more until the order was reshuffled. Merit Cup led around North Cape, followed by Chessie Racing, Toshiba, EF Language and finally Swedish Match. The rest of the leg was a 180 mile fetch down the east coast of the north island and the only position change was Toshiba getting past Chessie on the change from gradient to sea breeze that last afternoon.

I feel good about EF Language here at this half-way stage. For sure, I did not expect to be in this position at this point in my first Whitbread. The odds were against it — and common sense as well. What has born itself out is that EF Language is a very good boat, we have a few sails that are much better than those of the competition, and the crew is blending well and gaining the experienced it lacked in Southampton. The 39-point lead we have over Merit Cup is not substantial. There are plenty of points left on the table for any of the top six to win this race.

Sail Testing
The sails are one of the few things that are truly different boat to boat and just about the only thing that can be developed during the race. At the stopover in Sydney, we planned a two-day sail testing session for arrival in Auckland. One of the advantages of the EF program is the fact that we have two identical boats, which are excellent testing platforms.

We built three new sails for the session and checked the crossovers of existing sails that we hadn't had the chance to verify fully. We headed out with both boats on Sunday morning, and sailed all night and the next day. I was happy with what we learned and our sail designer, Robert Hook, now has some good information to build us some new sails for Brazil and the rest of the race.

Protest Lodged
Before leaving Auckland for sail testing, I found that Toshiba had lodged a protest against us. Dennis Conner claimed that EF Language intentionally turned off their navigation lights on the evening of January 8th. Apart from the fact that this was not true, Toshiba failed to properly file the protest. Further, they attempted to enlist Chessie and Merit Cup to witness for them. Both declined. Further, George Collins, owner of Chessie, was on hand to witness on behalf of EF Language. So after flying three members of the jury half way around the planet, the issue was dismissed in 10 minutes. The instigator of all this was Dennis Conner, our sports' leading public figure, who did not even front for the hearing.

The Whitbread is quite refreshing in that it is generally protest free. I think the public appreciates that. The Whitbread is about tough sailing on the high seas where man is challenged as much by his competitors, as by Mother Nature. It is an incredibly compelling story that has a great future. The Whitbread is not an event now for frivolous bickering. I hope it stays that way.

Cape Horn Is Next
Leg 5 will be the toughest leg of the Whitbread. Cold, windy, dark, scary and, yes, dangerous. It will be a chance for me, and my mates on EF Language, to show ourselves first, and the rest of the world, if we learned anything from our Leg 2 experience.

What I took away from Leg 2 was, [that] there is definitely a time in this type of racing when you have to throttle back. You can't sail like you're on Christchurch Bay in the Admiral's Cup when it is Day 15, it is snowing on deck, blowing 35 knots, and the waves are 6 meters high.

Getting around the Horn also represents the end of a stage. We will be leaving the Southern Ocean behind. To me, the Southern Ocean is the Round the World Race. It is what sets any Round the World Race apart from all other offshore races. It is where the danger lies, it is extreme.

Paul Cayard
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