I’d like to be able to say that I knew my first leg in the Whitbread would go this well when I decided to do it but honestly, I can not. It was a big surprise to many observers and a pleasant
surprise to me.
The idea of winning the Whitbread Round the World Race is something that I thought we had a chance of doing when I signed up with TEAM EF one year ago. However, I thought the road to the
winners circle would be slow and painful as my team and I,
largely novices at this type of sailing, struggled to catch up
with the Dalton’s, Smith’s and Dickson’s along with their very
I am taking EF Language’s win on the first leg with a grain of
salt as I don’t think much has really changed. I still believe
that the Whitbread experienced teams will prove their metal when
the going gets rough. The boats will get hard to handle, and
experience in making decisions concerning changing sails and how
to do it, will pay off. This should be coming up right now on the
second leg, which we are 24 hours into at the time of this
What winning the first leg did confirm, is that EF Language can
play this game and can win the Race. What remains to be seen is
the amount of our deficiency in “Whitbread” conditions and can we
learn fast enough to minimize those deficiencies, and come out on
top in the final tally next May.
As we forge south right now, 50-60 knots of wind await us at 45S.
Once we get down there, we should be in for 10 days of serious
sailing in one of the greatest places on this planet to practice
the sport and one in which few sailors actually have the privilege
of going to. The waves will be in the 10 meter range, the wind in
the 50’s, the temperature around 0, and the boat speed in the
30’s. The 24 hour record for a mono-hull will be destroyed by half
of the fleet.
For those of you who know me you may be saying, “This isn’t the
Paul Cayard I remember. I thought he was smarter than that!”
Well, I guess I may have talked myself into this but actually this
is really a unique experience, one I will never forget and as a
sailor one that completes my career. There are some sacrifices,
probably the largest made by my wife and children