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Paul Cayard's Whitbread Log
Leg 9: La Rochelle to Southampton
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  The tough decision will take place tomorrow as the wind backs into the north and the fleet will tack onto port and start heading east.

Day 1 - May 22, 1998

Report #2

1855 GMT
46° 34'N, 002° 23'W

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

Miles to Southampton: 380

From: Paul Cayard, Skipper, EF Language

What a start! 15,000 people lined the tiny inner harbor of La Rochelle to send us off and the 2,000 spectator boats were on the water to wish us well on our final leg of this Round the World Race.

It was a reaching start and at the first turning mark Toshiba led Kvaerner, followed closely by Swedish Match, EF Language and Chessie. The first three did a gybe set and went immediately into the spectator fleet, while EF Language and Chessie bore away and got some nice clear air. We gybed back to the fleet too soon and Chessie carried on to lead around the second mark. The fleet stayed very compact through it all and still is some 6 hours later.

We have taken over the lead now some 60 miles northwest of La Rochelle, albeit a small lead over Kvaerner. We seem to be going well, reaching with jib-top and genoa staysail.

The forecast is for the wind to stay in the northeast tonight, so we should make good progress and be at Brest in the early hours of Saturday. The tough decision will take place tomorrow as the wind backs into the north and the fleet will tack onto port and start heading east. The tough part is when [to tack], due to the complexities of the current and the continuation of the wind shift. The wind is also predicted to get much lighter, which will have a big effect on When.

We have started our "full race" watch system, which means 4 down and 8 on deck. We will stay that way to the finish. Having 8 on deck rather than 6 gives us much greater flexibility for changing sails.

It definitely feels like the end is near and a lot of thoughts are going through my mind as to what we have been through in the last 9 months. This will be an interesting weekends' sail.

Paul Cayard

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Leg 9 positions at 1800 GMT today:
  1. EF Language (P. Cayard, skipper)
  2. Innovation Kvaerner
  3. Chessie Racing (J. Kostecki, skipper)
  4. Toshiba
  5. EF Education
  6. Silk Cut
  7. Merit Cup
  8. BrunelSunergy
  9. Swedish Match
* Aggregate points total, including points scored for the earlier legs and points for the current leg according to present positions.

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