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

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  Nighttime, things are always more difficult to understand and execute, too, so the more hands the merrier. Sometimes I feel like I have gotten a job as night watchman.
Day 11 - March 24, 1998

0138 GMT
10° 52'N, 051° 47'W

Place: 1st; distance ahead of 2nd-place boat: 17.8 miles

Miles to Ft. Lauderdale: 1,852

From: Paul Cayard, Skipper, EF Language

We seem to have found our stride. For the last 36 hours we have been reaching in 20-27 knots of wind. Yesterday, for 6 hours, we had up the wrong sail. We changed at about 18:00 local time Sunday, and again at 0600 this morning, and since then we have been gaining on the fleet. This is stability sailing and EFL is one of the "stiffest" boats, along with Swedish Match.

Our strategy for this leg has been to stay close in the first part, which was light and unpredictable through the Doldrums, and wait for this stability sailing to make our move. We have some good sails to go along with our "wide body," which are working well for us now. Running is not our forté, so we need to build up a bit of a cushion before Barbuda.

Just now, as I write to you, we are being hit with some acceleration from a cloud, about 26 knots. Stevie Wonder is driving and we are doing 20 knots at the barn with 1,950 to go. The mean wind is 22 knots from 080°M. Still, this is enough to produce a medium-strength fire hose, maybe a "car wash".

These sail changes are always a bit nerve wracking because all you have to go on is numbers. Data from before compared to numbers now. You get a change in the direction or the speed of the wind and then you no longer have up the right sail. So, everyone wants to change. But will it last? Will it come right back to what it was? You never really know. You make the decision as much on gut as on statistics.

It is so much easier to tell if what you are doing is right or wrong when you are side by side with another boat, like in America's Cup sailing. In the Whitbread, you really have to know your boat and your sails intimately — how to use them and when. Several times we were about to change back or to some other sail and, luckily, we have stayed the course. Changes are quite costly if they are wrong. But having the right sail up can make a huge difference.

So, not much free time for me over the last 36 hours, as we have been constantly on the "edge" between sails. Nighttime, things are always more difficult to understand and execute, too, so the more hands the merrier. Sometimes I feel like I have gotten a job as night watchman.

No major disasters to report, nothing very unusual. The sea life of note is still the baby flying fish, which can be seen flying within inches of one's head, out of control, just having been launched by our bow wave. We did get a blue bottle in the cockpit today. Those are not pleasant to get stung by.

Otherwise, just business as usual on board the EFL.

I would like to say hi to the kids in the 5th grade class at Edna MacGuire School in Milly Valley who picked EFL as their boat in the Round the World Race.

Paul Cayard

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Leg 6 positions at 0600 GMT today:
  1. EF Language (P. Cayard, skipper)
  2. Silk Cut
  3. Innovation Kvaerner
  4. Swedish Match
  5. Merit Cup
  6. Chessie Racing (J. Kostecki, skipper)
  7. Toshiba
  8. BrunelSunergy
  9. EF Education
* 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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