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Paul Cayard's Whitbread Log
Leg 8: Baltimore to La Rochelle

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  For us on EFL, our goal for this leg is clear — beat Swedish Match or finish within one place of her and the Whitbread Race is ours.
Prestart - May 3, 1998

Miles to La Rochelle: 3,390

From: Paul Cayard, Skipper, EF Language

Here we go again. The last ocean crossing of the "Whitbread" era. As you know by now, the race will be called the "Volvo Ocean Race" in 2001.

The race will be over in three weeks from now as we will finish in Southampton on Sunday May 24th. It has been a long hard race but now is no time to let up.

For us on EFL, our goal for this leg is clear — beat Swedish Match or finish within one place of her and the Whitbread Race is ours.

So, our basic strategy will be to stay close to her and try to beat her going in the same general area. It is somewhat unexciting to start a race knowing that your tactics are governed by someone else, but that is probably a small price to pay for reducing the risk of them getting four boats between us at the finish in La Rochelle. It is boring but the professional thing to do.

Having said all that, Mark Rudiger has put more effort into preparing for this leg than any of the others, studying the weather and Gulf Stream for one week straight. There will be a choice for the fleet immediately upon exiting the Chesapeake — do we go on the longer eastern route to catch the advantageous current of the Gulf Stream or do we crack off onto the shortest course, Great Circle Route, and get the near-term gains.

Opting for the Gulf Stream is an investment in the future. For sure in the first few days, those who go east for the "Stream" will be behind those who go straight on course. But the question is — over time, let's say until Friday — which course will prove to be the winner.

There is no simple answer to that and thatís why there will probably be at least one boat in each corner. That's also why we should stay close to Swedish and hopefully why they may stay close to Merit, who is in third.

The Azores high is wildly out of place at the moment and is forecast to be right on top of us on Friday as we pass the limiting way point imposed by the Race committee at 46N 45W. If the high stays north, we will be squeezed up against the limit mark, trying to stay out from under the center of the high, which has no wind. This could have the effect of slowing the race down and slowing the leaders, who arrive there first and allowing the trailers to catch up.

The limit mark was imposed to keep the fleet from getting into a lot of ice that is drifting south with the Labrador Current. Still, we will have 35°F (2°C) water for a few days and the possibility of more ice than any other leg of the race.

In summary, this is not a straight-forward leg.

I am very proud, as an American, of the interest shown in Baltimore and Annapolis for this race and our sport. 250,000 people on the docks per day is nothing to sneeze at for any sport. Neither is 14 million hits per day on the Internet site. Todays' start will be live on ESPN 2. ABC Nightline, with Ted Koppell, will feature the Whitbread on Friday, May 9th, and I spoke at the National Geographic society on April 24th about the article featuring EF in their May issue.

This enthusiasm has further confirmed my belief that the general public can become consumed by our sport if presented in the right way and if we can expose it to them, which this race has done so well.

I plan to continue this momentum with my America's Cup challenge, AmericaOne, and I invite all of you to share my dream of bringing the Cup back to America and hosting it in the best natural sailing stadium in the world, San Francisco Bay, so that many millions more can touch and feel our sport.

Thanks Baltimore and Annapolis, you have done America proud and ensured that the Volvo Ocean Race will be back in four years.

Paul Cayard

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