The Race and Cayard Are Featured in National Geographic
EF Language during Leg 2 of the Whitbread Race.
WASHINGTON "Climbers do Everest, divers do the deep sea . . . sailors do the Whitbread," says Paul Cayard, skipper of EF Language in the May 1998 issue of National Geographic magazine.
"National Geographic was interested in this race both because it uses the whole world for its course and also because we knew it would provide a spectacular story and pictures of amazing adventure," said Peter Miller, the magazine's adventure editor. "We were particularly interested in the 'Southern Ocean,' which everyone agrees is the most challenging part of the Whitbread. It is where sailors and boats are pushed to their limits as they race in winds of 50 miles per hour and waves of 30 feet, dodging icebergs and whales."
Cayard and EF Language are favored to win this year's Whitbread Race, having
held the overall lead for most of the race. But their success has not been easy.
A harrowing account of the endurance and determination of Cayard and his fellow sailors braving the Whitbread was written for National Geographic by Angus Phillips, outdoor editor at the Washington Post. Yachting specialty photographer Rick Tomlinson, who crewed on the Cayard's boat for the entire Indian Ocean leg, shot the pictures.
"The heart of the race has always been the two isolated legs through what many call the Southern Ocean, a frigid, spume-strewed ring of gale-force terror around the South Pole, where four Whitbread sailors have perished," writes Phillips, who joined EF Language for the start and the finish of the leg between South Africa and Australia.
In ocean latitudes known as the roaring forties and furious fifties, gales blow year-round and seas build to peaks so high that they're known as the liquid Himalaya. Each 64-foot, high-tech sloop that competes in the Whitbread has a water ballast system to help keep it flat and fast in the strongest winds. In big seas, that can be dangerous as the vessel roars down waves so fast it plows into the next one ahead, sending a wall of icy water sweeping across the deck.
The nine remaining Whitbread competitors left Annapolis, Maryland, on May 3 and are en route to La Rochelle, France.