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

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  We'd love to win the leg, but the points are such that if we beat Swedish Match on this leg and Merit Cup does not come first, then EF Language will win the Whitbread Round the World Race (touch wood).
Day 12 - May 14, 1998

2227 GMT
46° 22'N, 011° 00'W

Place: 6th; distance ahead of Swedish Match (7th): 19 miles

Miles to La Rochelle: 405

From: Mark "Crusty" Christensen, Helmsman/Trimmer, EF Language

This is like match racing in the dark. Every six hours someone turns the lights on and we get a quick look where Swedish Match is. We see where they headed, how fast they were going and how far away they are from us. Then we spend the next six hours speculating where they're going now.

We talk about how they must have tacked on that shift and how we need to cover. Someone points out that there's better pressure where they are going, so they can't have tacked. The conversation goes back and forth until we get enough of a wind shift and we go across to "cover". Then, after six hours, the lights come back on and we see them again. If they are not straight behind us, we alter our course to get between "the man and the hoop".

I get this honour of the daily reporter again because after the last tack to cover our invisible opposition my bunk broke. So, I did the smart thing and went into the nav station and told Rudi we have to tack (we are only allowed to sleep on the windward side of the boat and all the other bunks are full). His reply, "Don't worry. The rest of the race is on port tack". This, of course, is no help to me as my broken bunk is on the starboard side and we are on starboard.

We've tacked back as we've got a wind shift. The lights have just come on and it turns out that Swedish Match stayed on port. We now have to sail fast and low to get across in front of them again. By which time they may have tacked and gone the other way. This all sounds very close, but Swedish Match is in fact 25 miles away and 21 miles further from La Rochelle than us.

You may be wondering why we are doing this and not trying to win the 8th leg. We'd love to win the leg, but the points are such that if we beat Swedish Match on this leg and Merit Cup does not come first, then EF Language will win the Whitbread Round the World Race (touch wood). That is the goal of our team and, like all the teams in the race, the end of 18 months of hard work.

The last few days have been interesting as the fleet positions have changed. We would have liked to have sailed a course more like Merit Cup and stayed more to the north. That was, of course, until yesterday when they came over to play with us and Swedish Match. Merit Cup is 60 points behind Swedish Match with the two legs left. Maybe they think if they can gain 30 this leg, then its all on for the last leg. The best way to do that is, like we are, stay between them and the finish line.

We have to take our hats off to Toshiba, who seem to have sailed a perfect leg up until now. If there is any justice, they will pass Silk Cut and win the leg. But with yacht racing that rarely happens and EF Education will pass them both to win. That would be good for the girls, who have worked hard for no result up until now. We keep our fingers crossed.

My six hours off are up and I'm due on deck now with very little sleep to show for it. That's the Whitbread though. Its all over in 10 days.


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Leg 8 positions at 1200 GMT today:
  1. Toshiba
  2. Silk Cut
  3. Chessie Racing (J. Kostecki, skipper)
  4. EF Education
  5. Merit Cup
  6. EF Language (P. Cayard, skipper)
  7. Swedish Match
  8. Innovation Kvaerner
  9. BrunelSunergy
* Aggregate points total, including points scored for the earlier legs and points for the current leg according to present positions.

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