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Paul Cayard's Whitbread Log
Leg 6: São Sebastião to Ft. Lauderdale

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  Wham! 25 knots with a 30 degree-header and we're off at 18 knots way low of course but fast. Now, the usual debate regarding how long do we ride it and what do we change to if it holds or gets worse.
Day 6 - March 19, 1998

Report #1

1145 GMT
06° 23'S, 034° 36'W

Miles to Ft. Lauderdale: 3,307

Place: 3th; distance behind 1st-place boat: 16.6 miles

From: Mark Rudiger, Navigator, EF Language

Minefield "Two Bravo" successfully cleared and dropping fast astern. Preparing for "Three Alpha" probably due in this evening as we approach the 200-mile rounding mark over the top of South America approaching the Doldrums.

I finally got a decent sleep early this morning as we went more than a few hours without constant sail changes and radar watch to figure out what the next squall combination was going to do. Last night was a classic scenario of the last few days. I had just come up on deck to relieve Paul and see what the sky and surrounding waters looked like: We're broad reaching along with masthead reaching spinnaker, Stevie 'Wonder' [Erickson] is driving, Marco [Constant] is trimming, Josh [Belsky] is grinding, Juggy [Justin Clougher] is cleaning up from the last sail change, and I'm staring in on the radar on deck, taking bearings on squalls. Merit and EF Education are about 4 miles astern and I'm trying to find Chessie [John Kostecki, skipper] off our starboard bow.

On his way below, Paul suggests if we get headed anymore we change to the big reaching jib and then to our new masthead reacher we've code named "Axel" after a buddy's rather large albino great dane.

We see a particularly long large "beast" sagging our way and bearings indicate it will cross our path. As always, a full on debate starts up whether we should start running off to "ride" it or hold course and punch through it. The decision is made for us.

Wham! 25 knots with a 30 degree-header and we're off at 18 knots way low of course but fast. Now, the usual debate regarding how long do we ride it and what do we change to if it holds or gets worse.

It takes all the guys and some time to do a sail change on one of these things, so you want to make the right call. I'm usually trying to work things out for an average time period and hold a course while the guys want to go FAST NOW. Finally we decide to change to the R-1 reacher.

Juggy drags it forward and plugs it in while Marco sorts out the sheets. Curt [Oetking] gets the take-down line for the spinnaker set up and Josh is working the pit. We do a nice change and I notice after stuffing the kite below we're already getting lifted from the squall. Stevie yells for Josh to "drop a bottle," meaning empty about 700 liters of water ballast from the forward tank. A big gust hits and we have to bear off.

"Hold the water!" Another light spot and lifted.

"Empty all the bottles."

Basically, this is a good, versatile rig for 45 minutes, but then we're light and lifted, and decide to try "Axel." We jump Juggy up the mast into the darkness to "strop off" the sail at the masthead to unload the halyard before deploying.

Kimo's [Worthington] watch is coming up on deck now and, as always, the new guys up have all kinds of new info to add to the equation. In this case, Kimo notices another large line developing to weather and ahead. "Is it smart to put up big 'Axel' nowww?

As the first big puff hits and we have to bear off and tank up we all know the answer . . . Juggy DOWN! As Juggy hits the deck, he grumbles something about what happened to our plan to use the averages and he really didn't need to go on a sightseeing tour for nothing. Sometimes you just can't help it. You make the best decisions you can.

This time, Kimo was right, as we were already on the edge for the next hour and would have been a minor fiasco with "Axel." We do get it up the next hour, however, and after a lot of tweaking and shifting ballast and headings, we find a sweet spot for this new sail and note some good numbers.

You never know for sure when the sked is going to be your friend, but this time it is good. We have moved up to third, just passing Chessie before sked time and solid gains across the board.

For us, this helps justify the sweat and blood (I banged my ankle on the primary [winch] and left a little trail around the cockpit), and keeps us pushing harder to mow down Kvaerner and Silk. So, next round near the corner of Brazil and into the Doldrums will most likely mix things up again, but for now it's a drag race to that point. Crusty's [Mark Christensen] up there now giving it all he has as I watch Chessie slowly falling back.

GO EFL!!

Mark Rudiger  


John Kostecki's Race Report
Skipper John Kostecki (AmericaOne tactician) has sent his first report from Chessie Racing, which you can read here.

Be sure to check back for more of the first-hand reports from EF Language and Chessie Racing.

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Leg 6 positions at 1200 GMT today:
      BoatPoints*Position
Overall
      BoatPoints*Position
Overall
  1. Silk Cut
  2. Chessie Racing (J. Kostecki, skipper)
  3. EF Language (P. Cayard, skipper)
  4. Toshiba
  5. Innovation Kvaerner
  6. Merit Cup
  7. BrunelSunergy
  8. EF Education
  9. Swedish Match
399
500
596
376
438
466
259
159
426
6
2
1
7
4
3
8
9
5
* Aggregate points total, including points scored for the first, second, third and fourth legs and points for the fifth leg according to current positions.


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