Hard Decisions & No Brainers ***

Like many top professional sailors, Paul Cayard is a perfectionist. Having won the Whitbread Race at this first attempt in 1997, he was a useful guy to get on board Grant Dalton’s 2001 campaign for the Volvo Ocean Race aboard Amer Sports One.

There must have been times, though, when some of his team mates were wondering if his passion for boatspeed bordered on the excessive. “I was telling the guys on Amer, in any stability situation, when you move a PC yarn,” he says while picking up a mouse cable as an example, “from the middle of the boat to the windward side, it is faster, so why not do it? Every single tiny thing – if you stack it from here to here – it’s faster. It just is – you don’t have to study it, hope for it, pray for it, it just is.” As Scotty on the USS Enterprise might have observed: “You cannae change the laws of physics!”

Even Dalton, who thinks of himself as a man with his eye on the detail, admitted to being gobsmacked by Cayard’s obsessiveness. Cayard makes no apologies for that. He cites an example from the last leg: “I see a guy take off his heavy weather jacket and fling it on the leeward bunk, and I say: ‘Why don’t you take it and hang it up on the windward side? What are you thinking about – it’s just brain fade?’

“There’s just no doubt that that thing has to be stacked on the windward side. That’s what I call one of those guaranteed gainers. You have got to make sure bank all those, because there are all those other times when you’re dealing with a weather forecast or maybe human error, which you barely have total control over, that you’ve got to be ahead with all these other things that are total givens.”

For Cayard, such situations are simple. There is a right way and a wrong way, and so there is no difficult decision to be made. You just do it. It gets tougher when you face a dilemma, a hard choice, especially in a complex big boat campaign when there are many difficult choices to be made all at once.

Again though, Cayard has a good way of sifting the really important decisions from the less vital ones. “If a team has been chasing after something for a year and a half and still nothing has come from it then it must be forgotten. Whether it is a decision about the boat, the crew or whatever, there is often a tendency to keep discussing and worrying about something, wasting energy when you just have to make a decision.”

“One of my philosophies is that if two things are so similar that it makes it hard to decide then you should just pick one, because it doesn’t matter. It is important not to waste any more time on it because there is probably something else that will make much more difference, where you really need the time. If you get it wrong in that case you can lose a lot, but if two things are going to have a similar outcome, it’s not worth wasting any more time on it, since in the end it will be the same anyway.”

LInk to the full SailJuice.com article

TP 52- Audi MedCup-Cagliari – Final

Three races today on the Gulfo di Cagliari in a Mistral of 15 to 27 knots. We had our worst day with a 9, 8, 6. Still we hung on to third place overall. Team New Zealand won the regatta although they did not win any of the races today.

Matador had a first in the first race then a last in the last race. It was all pretty mixed up.

The racing was very tight in the smooth water and the narrow tacking angles. We were just a few meters short of crossing starboard tack boats at the windward marks and had to duck them several times today. This added up to a lot of places.

Anyway, all in all, it was a very good week on the Artemis.

Next appointment is in Portimao, Portugal mid August.

Flying home to SF tomorrow and 505 training with Howie on Monday.

I’ll keep you posted.

For complete results go to 2009.medcup.org

TP 52- Audi MedCup-Cagliari

We had another good day on the Artemis today. Three inshore races were planned but the wind got real wobbly after 1430 and we were only able to get a second one in and it was a bit marginal at that.

The first race was held in 10-12 knots of wind from 170. We had an excellent start and never crossed behind anyone. We led wire to wire, although there was a bit of a scary moment on the second windward leg when the wind went 10 degrees against us but we were patient, rode it out, waited for it to come back our way and ultimately extended our led. It doesn’t get and sweeter than that out here in this fleet. Matador was second and TNZ was 5th. So, at this point we were leading the regatta.

Then the wind completely died. This was in the forecast for today. Many people thought that was the end of it. The boom tents came out at the temperature here today was mid 30’s which is around 95F.

At 1630, an 8 knot breeze filled in from 080. It was not on anyone’s forecast and no one expected it to hold. It held for about a half an hour so the race committee decided to bang one off. The first start was aborted for a 15 degree wind shift at 2 minutes to go. Ten minutes later another attempt.

The left looked to have better pressure and everyone was gunning for the left. We had another awesome start, with just one boat to our left. Team New Zealand and Matador had bad starts and were forced right. So, the foot race to the left was on and we have our beast going pretty well now Unfortunately, the wind went 20 degrees right. We found ourselves in 7th at the top mark.

With the wind 20 degree to the right of the course axis, we followed Quantum Racing into a gybe set. As we set the wind died completely. The lead boat who bore away got a 40 degree header just at this time and they were now laying the leeward mark. Things were a bit crazy at this point.

To make a long story a bit shorter were got firmly into last place at the leeward gate. We hung tough as a team and played a few shifts up the second windward leg. We closed right up to the group infront of us at the second windward mark and were in a position to make some moves. We did play a few more shifts and we passed three boats to finish 7th.

As bad as that was, we still finished the day with 8 points which is not bad in this fleet. Team New Zealand and Matador each had 7 points on the day.

So we are second overall, 4.5 points behind TNZ and 1 point ahead of Matador. The fourth place boat in this fleet has 12 points more than Matador so the three of us will most likely be fighting it out for the win tomorrow.

I am starting to play around with Twitter (you can follow me at cayardsailing) ….trying to keep up with the latest trends. Not sure if it will stick with me, but trying it out for now.

For complete results go to 2009.medcup.org

TP 52- Audi MedCup-Cagliari

We had a great day on the Artemis today. It was the Coastal Race today, a 30 mile course around the Gulf of Cagliari and we managed to take the checkered flag.

Team New Zealand finished second and Matador 5th after leading around the first windward leeward. We are now second to TNZ by 3.5 points. The Coastal Races have a 1.5 factor on the finishing position.

After not a great start, we found a clear lane to the left which we thought may be the favored side. However, we decided to come back to the right a bit before Team New Zealand and Quantum who were winning the left side. This turned out to be a key move and the wind was better on the right. We crossed those that went right early and rounded the first windward mark third behind Matador and Bigimist.

Down the first run we managed to wiggle our way round the turning mark just ahead of Bigamist who then slowed down the fleet a bit as they were not ready with their masthead Genoa. Matador, solidly in first, sailed a straight line to the next point of land while the rest of us were a bit leery of a possible hole right on the Cape, held high. Sure enough, Matador sailed into a hole and we took over the lead and never let it go.

We have been working every night analyzing our performance and trying to improve. Matador is the fastest of the fleet here in these lighter breezes and she is virtually a sistership to Artemis. I think we made a little improvement in the power we are getting out of the rig and sails and this helped us today. Going to the performance meeting now so I will know for sure then.

Five more races to go and tomorrow’s forecast is quite light; 10 knots and under. These light races are very taxing as the wind is fluky and can’t be read so easily. A lot of racing to go and many points can be quickly lost in this very competitive fleet.

For complete results go to 2009.medcup.org

TP 52- Audi MedCup-Cagliari

We had another good day on the Artemis. Two races were held on the Gulf of Cagliari in 10-12 knots of wind from the southeast.

Artemis scored a 3, 3 and we are still in third place. Matador won the day with a 1, 2 and is now just one point out of first. Team New Zealand had a 4, 5 and were coming from behind to get there. Amazing how fast things can change in this fleet.

The wind was forecast to build into a similar day as yesterday but it failed. As the windspeed got to 12 knots, it just retreated back down to 10. There was a bit of chop on the course from a stronger gradient wind out on the east side of Sardinia so that made sailing in 10 knots a bit more difficult.

One of my goals today was to work with Torbjorn to get a bit more speed on the starting line. We achieved that and had two excellent starts. It is such a boost in this fleet to come off the line well.

We were in 1st place for a short time on the second windward leg of the first race, but never managed to get real control. All in all we sailed fast and smart, never taking big chances. We are in the consistency mode which I like.

Tomorrow is the Coastal Race which is a 25 mile races around the Gulf of Cagliari. The race counts 1.5 times an inshore race.

Off to the performance debrief, then dinner then a media dinner. I am pre-eating because the media dinner is likely to be served at 2300 and I will be gone by then.

For complete results go to 2009.medcup.org

TP 52- Audi MedCup-Cagliari

We had a good day on the Artemis today. Three races were held on the Gulf of Cagliari, in 12-14 knots of wind from the southeast.

Artemis scored a 2, 2, 7 to put us in third place. Team New Zealand won all three races and Matador of Argentina is one point ahead of us with a 3, 3, 4.

The races were incredibly close and there wasn’t much in it at the first windward mark of each race. We actually finished better than we rounded the first windward mark in each race, which is a good sign. Passing boats is an important trait to have. Everyone will get back in the pack at some point and the good ones will come through the fleet.

Our first two starts were ok and we had a bad one in the last race. We managed to get clear onto port early and the right was good. We almost snagged a 3rd at the top mark but could not quite get through and ended up 9th. That is how close it is. It is literally a matter of feet and inches in those final crosses at the top of the 2.2 mile windward legs.

The forecast for tomorrow is pretty much like today so it will be another long and tough day of sailing.

For complete results go to 2009.medcup.org

Cagliari 2009

Today was the official practice race for this series. The Mistral finally died out after three days and a sea breeze filled in around 1200. By 1300 (start time) we had 9 knots from the southeast.

As per usual, we had two practice starts then on the third start, a race. We tried some different approaches in our practice starts and they did not pan out too well for us. For the race start, we used a standard port tack approach and had a great start down near the left end of the line. The left side of the course was good, a bit more pressure than the right and that got us to the first mark first. Down the run we had one little glitch on the first gybe and that set us back a bit. We rounded the gate second and up the second windward leg, I played the middle while Matador and Biginist were a bit to our left. We rounded the second windward mark third and that is how we finished. Team New Zealand was right behind us.

So we felt pretty good about our performance, we are definitely improving each day. We certainly have a ways to go to reach perfection.

Tomorrow’s forecast is for another sea breeze. I am sure the race committee will try to get three races in so it will be a long day. The water is so flat and the breeze is rather steady. Only small gradual shifts, so the fleet stays very close together. It will be a matter of inches and feet on the critical first cross that will make the difference at the first mark and probably for the rest of the race.

I woke up at 0600 today and could not get back to sleep so I went to the gym. Had to wait for it to open at 0730. We are in Italy. Anyway, I love to work out in the mornings. It sets my whole day off to a good start. I will go again tomorrow. I am trying to gain a few pounds for the 505 Worlds.

Off to a performance meeting now, then dinner.

Audi MedCup

Today was a good practice day for us on Artemis. The Mistral was still in but it was sailable with winds of 18-24 knots. Bright sunshine, a bit cooler at 27C and very dry conditions.

Yesterday there was too much wind to sail as the Mistral was in at 30 knots. I got a nice session in at the gym and ate a big lunch as I still need to work on gaining some weight for the 505 Worlds at the end of August in SF.

With yesterday lost, we left the dock at 1000 today and put in a big day getting back at 1530.

The Artemis and Team New Zealand coach boats collaborated to set up a race course and ran four sets of races for the whole fleet. A race on a practice day actually consists of three starts. Two are just practice starts and on the third start the fleet continues for a one lap, windward leeward race. So, with the four sets today we got in 12 starts and four races.

It was a big day and a good one for us on Artemis. As I am new to the team, I have a lot of work to do to integrate myself into their program and my communication with skipper Torbjon Tornquist. I have my work cut out for me filling in for Russell Coutts who is out in San Diego scaring himself on some sort of trimaran with a 300 foot high mast.

Team New Zealand and Quantum Racing were the best today while we were middle of the pack. It was a good day though, as we did so much racing and starting that we had plenty of opportunities to get into all sorts of situations and work on our communication and tactics.

Tomorrow is the official practice race which should start at 1300. The forecast is for this Mistral to die down and for the southeast sea breeze to fill in tomorrow. This weather scenario should dominate the racing area for the first few days of our regatta at least.

The first race will be on Tuesday and we usually have three races a day except on the “long distance” race day which will be Thursday. The regatta will end on Saturday.

You can get the official results and other information on the TP52 Audi Med Cup at www.2009medcup.org

Paul

Cagliari-Day 1

Got into Cagliari at 2300 last night after 30 hours flying from Honolulu. The flights went well it was just that there were four of them. My bags did not get lost because I did not check any. So all good there.

This morning I woke up at 0430 local time. Just could not get back to sleep. We went sailing for three hours to check some new sails. They all looked good.

I am back at the hotel, took a shower, and am just sitting in the AC. It is 37C out side which is about 98F and it is 1730.

I have to go get a new SIM card but I am waiting for an hour before venturing outside.

Mistral is forecast for tomorrow. If this happens, it could blow 30 knots plus which would probably keep us at the dock for the day.

Dinner is at 2000 and then I will crash pretty hard I am sure,

A domani.

Paul

Transpac Results – Travelling Day

One Island to Another

Honolulu

With about 3/4’s of the fleet finished, the Transpac results are posted now for the top positions.

Samba Pa Ti had a clean sweep winning our class, the fleet and first to finish among boats without movable ballast. Onboard Flash, we finished second in class and second overall. A very credible placing.

Upon our arrival here early Monday, much was made of the family make up of our team. The Cayard family and the Crum family made up half the crew. There were plenty of questions from the media such as, ?Did the kids get bored out there? How did Allie handle being with all those men for eight days? What did it mean to you to sail here with your kids?? and so on.

Half way across, when we found ourselves surprisingly winning overall, the thought did cross my mind that maybe we should change our fun program into full race mode. But everyone was clearly enjoying themselves, the fast ride, the steering and all were smiling a lot.

As Skipper Tom Akin said at our crew dinner on the eve of the start, the Flash program was about having fun and a great adventure. That is why I had decided to join Tom and to bring Allie and Danny. That is exactly what it was halfway across. It would have been wrong to change that.

And not that it would have made a difference. In the end, Samba beat us by a little over 1.5 hours on corrected time. We ended up narrowly beating Peter Tong’s OEX who finished first in the 70 class and third overall.

Samba sailed well but mostly they were well prepared. A lot of thought and planning went into how to sail a TP52 down this track with the weather that we would incur. They had some nice sails with different geometry and design to allow the boat to sail fast on angles in wind speeds where standard sails won’t let the boat go.

Their navigator had them bang the right corner harder than anyone and had the wheels to make it work.

I have sailed a lot with Samba Pa Ti in the past and I know how much effort and passion John Kilroy and his ever meticulous boat captain Eric Arndt put into their sailing. My hat is off to them and I am happy for them as well.

As usual, I did lose a few pounds on the race and mostly right off that though mid section. It is very nice from a personal standpoint but you may remember that I will be crewing for Howard Hamlin in the 505 World Championship in just over a month and for that event I will need to be as heavy as I can be. So back to weight lifting and eating copious amounts of food. I started yesterday when Danny and I hit the gym at the Outrigger Canoe Club after surfing for a few hours. The we went out for a nice steak dinner at Chuck’s overlooking the beach and Diamond Head. The classic Waikiki scene!

This morning I am leaving Hawaii for Sardinia and the Audi TP52 MedCup event onboard Artemis. This will be my first regatta with Torbijon Tornquist and his team who are very well prepared and take the TP52 racing very seriously.

We will be training for four days before the racing starts next Tuesday in Cagliari on the southern tip of the Island. I am looking forward to getting back into this very competitive fleet after missing the first two events this season.

I will of course be writing updates from Italy. For now, it is time to settle in for the 28 hour travel time trip. I am passing through SFO, but not enough time to get to Kentfield, so I am stopping in to see my mom and dad who live near the airport and change my laundry. Kind of like the old days.

Paul