Whitbread Log: Leg 5, Auckland to São Sebastião
Cayard, EF Language Win Leg, Increase Lead Overall
SÃO SEBASTIÃO, Brazil Feb. 24, 1998
After being at sea for 23 days, 1 hour and 10 minutes, skipper Paul Cayard and the W-60 EF Language crossed the finish line at 12:10 a.m. local time (0210 GMT) to win the 6,670-nautical-mile Leg 5 of the nine-leg Whitbread Round the World Race.
Paul Cayard Wins Leg 5
This is the third leg the EF crew has won, giving the Swedish boat a total of 507 points. If the other boats finish in their current positions, EF Language will have a 96-point lead over Merit Cup, currently in fifth place on this leg.
Cayard, who is the skipper and CEO of AmericaOne, is especially pleased with this victory after being chided for his fifth-place showing in Leg 2.
"In wrapping up this Leg 5 using one word, I would say, 'Redemption,' Cayard wrote in his final report from sea as EF Language neared the finish line off the Posada Beira da Prainha Hotel. "We redeemed our pride as good sailors, which we knew we were, but which had been brought into question in the conditions of the Southern Ocean. Our lack of experience was a very understandable reason for our defeat on Leg
2, but still, one leg is enough. I am happy that we learned to
deal with the 'Whitbread' with just one spanking."
The start was less than auspicious for Cayard & Co. They bounced from the middle to the back of the nine-boat fleet in first few days after leaving Auckland, New Zealand.
But then they began closing the gap on the leaders, and on Day 8, they took the lead from Silk Cut which was later dismasted. From that point on, they steadily increased their lead to 260 miles over second-place Toshiba as they rounded the notorious Cape Horn on Day 16.
After turning north toward São Sebastião -- still more than 2,000 miles distant -- Cayard and crew squeezed through a window of favorable weather. The rest of the fleet was not as fortunate, and drifted for several days in an unusual near-calm off the typically stormy Cape Horn.
This gave Cayard aided by navigator Mark Rudiger and a dedicated crew an insurmountable lead that grew to some 650 miles in the ensuing week. When EF Language finished this morning, second-place BrunelSunergy was 500 miles astern, with Chessie Racing just 14 miles back. They are expected to finish on Thursday.
Cayard acknowledged his good fortune in his Feb. 17 report, but tempered his comments with an explanation that his tactics played a role, as well:
Lucky, Lucky, Lucky. We have had more than our
fair share since rounding Cape Horn yesterday. Our
buddies are stuck back there slatting in the sloppy
seas while we are reaching along at 12 knots in
smooth seas inside the world's largest breakwater.
But we did get ourselves into a position to be lucky,
and that happened three days go. I remember clearly
two days and one night about 600 miles out from the
Horn when we sailed the entire time with our big
masthead kite on, Big Kahuna, in 30 knots of wind. I
suspected then that no one else was pushing that
hard, or maybe they did not have masthead kites
anymore, and that gave us a 80-mile lead rather than
a 40-mile lead, which turned into 140 and now close
to 300. We are now in another weather system
compared to our friends and that give us huge
opportunity. Still, I don't mind being lucky. It is a nice
quality to have in life.
The 4,750-nautical-mile Leg 6 from São Sebastião to Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, begins on Saturday, March 14, and is expected to end about April 2.
Looking ahead to Leg 6, Cayard wrote:
I feel pretty good about the position of EF Language.
We have learned a lot as a crew, we have developed our boat well,
and we have the lead. There is still a lot of racing to be done
and anything can happen, in sailing especially, so I expect
nothing less from EFL and her crew than what we have done so far.
On a separate note, AmericaOne tactician John Kostecki is rejoining Chessie Racing for the remainder of the Whitbread race.
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