It is that time of the year again. Time to wish everyone all the best for 2006.

For the Pirates, we are eagerly looking forward to getting out on the ocean and doing what we are here to do. The stay in Cape Town has been great, a lot of us have had our families here as they had vacation from school. But now it is time to get on with the racing and we feel that we and the Pearl are ready to fight is out with the other teams.

The forecast right now for January 2nd has us going on the wind for the first 48 hours in 25-30 knots of wind. This will make for a rough departure. Then we will probably cross a high pressure ridge working our way more south to hit the “highway”, the strong westerlies that lie south of 40 South, and be off and running with someone in the fleet possibly breaking the 24 hours record.

The boat is loaded and sitting at her berth in the Marina at the Volvo Ocean Race Village. We went for a short sail this morning as a final check or dress rehearsal. These are always good to do as inevitably you find something that your forgot to do or that did not get set up correctly. All is done now and we are taking off for New Years Eve (will be a mild one) and New Years Day which will the crew will have off. I want to climb to the top of Table mountain with my family tomorrow. The shore team will come in on New Years Day at 11:00 to tear down the base.

We will be onboard the Pearl at 1000 on Monday for a 1030 departure ceremony and 1300 start. The start is pretty simple here, just one buoy about 2 miles southwest of the starting line to keep the fleet close to shore and then we are off. The Race committee has set a couple of “Ice Waypoints” GPS positions that we have to

keep to the north of as big ice bergs have been spotted by satellite around 46S.

My next report will be from the navigation station.

Paul Cayard

Pirates of the Caribbean

Tough day for the Pirates today. The day started off with some bad news in that our man Justin (Juggy) Clougher was not able to sail due to a violent case of the stomach flu. We were lucky to have a very good sailor working in our sail loft, Jeremy Smith, being able to fill in and he did a great job. Poor Jeremy came on a day where we used the same spinnaker every downwind leg so he did nothing but pack sails all day.

The forecast was for a strong south easterly breeze and that is just what we had…up to 40 knots max. After the start, we got going to the right which was the favored side of the course. We rounded the top mark 4th but very close to ABN 2 and movistar whom we soon passed by setting the spinnaker while they sailed with a large genoa. We could not lay the reach mark…it was a run, and we had some close maneuvering with movistar as that mark. They broached (lost control of the boat) first and then we did the same. We got out of our mess first and had a nice solid lock on second from then on to the third windward mark. On the last run, we broached again and lost three boats. Movistar, ABN2 and Brasil 1. The race was shortened after the fourth windward leg so we did not have to do the last run. That was a good thing because we were out of spinnakers and we probably we not the only ones.

It was frustrating to lose three places like that on the last lap. We were definitely doing something wrong on the gybes in 35 knots of wind. As you can imagine, it takes a good amount of coordinationwith the crew, helmsman and swinging keel, to get those gybes to come off well. Obviously we did not have it worked out. After thinking about things and discussing with some of our team members who watched the race, we think we have identified the problem.

As frustrating as it was for us, there were two others who had a tougher day, Ericsson and Synergy.

We have to keep it positive now and just go on about our work in preparing for leg 2 to Melbourne. There will be plenty of opportunities to do things right and wrong over the next 6400 miles. We have to focus on preparing the boat and ourselves to the best level possible.

A lot of my time and that of navigator Jules Salter will be spent working with out meteorologist Jean Yves Bernot next week to get a good grip on the weather for the leg to Melbourne. Tomorrow and Wednesday we will be working on the boat. Later in the week we will take the boat out again and train for those windy conditions to make sure we have a better technique for the gybes.

Tomorrow night will be the Leg 1 Prize giving. It is usually a very nice event here in Cape Town from what I remember. The Pirates will be there in full colors, not expecting any prizes but saluting the winners. We will be wearing our special Pirate suits designed and supplied by Zegna.

Time to keep our chins up and look forward to another day.

Paul Cayard

Pirates of the Caribbean

Pirate Update, Cape Town December 24, 2005

It is Christmas Eve and it doesn’t feel like it…at least not for all us Northern Hemisphere people. It is a bright sunny day and the sun came up at 0500 and will set around 2100. But it is really nice down here and Africa is a very cool place to visit. Most of the team have some family down here visiting them which is nice.

We had a few days off earlier this week and got back to it on Thursday with a work day and got out on the water for a full day of short course training yesterday. On Monday we will race the in port race which is a 30 mile course around the buoys. We are looking forward to getting back out there and mixing it up with the other competitors. The forecast is for fairly strong wind so boat handling will be important in the outcome of the race. Yesterday we spent our time practicing starts and then sailing a triangle-windward-leeward course. The windward legs were three miles long and the reaches 2.2 miles. At the speeds we go, the reaching legs take 6 minutes….things have to happen fast with regard to sails up and sails down. And with just 11 people onboard, it is a real challenge.

The first in-port race in Sanxenxo was very light wind and therefore reasonably easy on the crew work. This one, if the breeze is up, will be action packed.

Today we are going out for another session at 0900-1200. It is 0730 and the wind is already up around 20 knots from the south east and forecast to build to 30 by late this afternoon.

Tonight we have a team and family members Christmas dinner in one of the bays just to the south of Cape Town. Santa will visit the young Pirates while the older will be treated to a special South African meal. Tomorrow, Christmas Day, we will not sail, then Monday is the race.

Thanks again to Pescanova and flying the boat down here which saved us a lot of time, we feel like we are ready to race both on Monday and on January 2nd for leg 2 to Melbourne. Getting that extra time really helped us get things put back together in a proper way and not be scrambling at the last minute.

On behalf of the Pirates of the Caribbean, Happy Holidays to all!

Paul Cayard

Pirates of the Caribbean

We are about 100 miles west of Cape Town, heading east. We will get back to the dock sometime early this afternoon. It has been good to get out here on the sea for a couple of days and run the boat and all its systems. Everything is working well.

The first day we had the strongest winds, up to 26 knots and we got the boat going 27 knots. While well short of the speeds we were going that first night on leg 1, everything seemed solid. We had a good look at our reaching headsails and spinnakers and recorded some performance information on each that helps us complete our sail cross over chart. The sail cross over chart is a jig saw puzzle looking thing that maps out an area that each sail covers on the wind speed/wind angle matrix.

Next, we slammed our way upwind all night, tacking a few ties and restacking the boat each time to simulate real race conditions for the loads and for our on training. “Stacking” is a chore where we take everything that is on deck and below and move it from one side to the other with the goal of getting the weight as far outboard as possible to add to the stability of the boat. This requires all 10 of us working hard for about 10 minutes to lift 100 kg sails, 25 kg food bags, spares, et. and shift them to the other side. Naturally the boat isn’t sitting there idly but rather inclined 25 degrees and jarring all over the place. Quite a workout!

Yesterday we practiced some in line (without tacking) headsail changes. We have gone to Hanks for attaching the headsails to the headstay rather than the twin foil device for safety in the high wind speed conditions. This takes changes a bit slower as you have to hank on the new sail and un hank the old one. The advantage of this system is that it is safer; you have less chance of loosing a man or sail overboard. The down side is that you sail without a headsail for a the period of time that it takes to make the change. So we worked on some technique to minimize the time required. Next we worked on our snuffer. The “snuffer” is a neat little gadget that allows us to lower a spinnaker and pack it into a “sock at the same time. A bit hard to explain but imagine a large ring at the top of the spinnaker that has a long tube of sail cloth attached to it. This ring and tube just sit at the top of the spinnaker while you use the sail, then when you want to get rid of the sail, you pull the ring down toward the deck with ropes and as the ring slide down gathering the sail inside of it, the “sock” is sliding over the now gathered sail. This makes for a long slender tube or “sock” which has the sail in it. Then we lower the sail to the deck and put that now packed sail into its bag. For short-handed sailing, this is a great tool as it allows for much quicker redeployment of the sail. If you simply drop the sail into the boat like you would on a day racer with plenty of hands available, it would take us a good 30 minutes of hard work for three people to pack the sail and have it ready to re-deploy. This particularly helpful in squalls as you often have to get the spinnaker off for the max gust but shortly there after you need it again. As you can imagine, there is a bit of technique to getting this gadget to work correctly and reliably in all wind strengths and this is something we are still working on perfecting. So we put a few hours in on that. We covered about 600 miles on our little trip off South Africa. Apart from the training that we need to do, we feel more confident in the boat now and the repairs that have been made. The Pearl feels solid and ready to go.

Tomorrow we will be part of the event that our partner Pescanova has organized for 1000 local school children. It will be a four hour program with all sorts of activities for the kids and of course a visit by a Pirate ship and real Pirates. We will have the honour of receiving a blessing from the Archbishop Desmond TuTu as part of the program. It should be a great day in Cape Town for all of us.


Pirates of the Caribbean

The Pearl Sails again! All went well. Tomorrow we go to sea.

Paul Cayard

Pirates of the Caribbean

We have had a very good last couple of days here in Cape Town and The Black Pearl is all back together. As per the plan she went in the water today and the team is set to go sailing tomorrow.

Paul Cayard

The Black Pearl Skipper

Seahorse December 2005

The 2005-2006 Volvo Ocean Race is off and running. Last weekend during the Sanxenxo In-Port race, we got our first glimpse at the differences between the boats. There are obviously some different designs out there but there are also some more subtle differences between boats of the same design philosophy. The most obvious difference was that between the Farr design represented by 4 of the boats and the 2 Juan K boats of ABN Amro which are closed to the Open 60 genre. The ABN boats have quite wide water line sections which will be useful in more breeze but which were noting but drag in the 8 knot opener.

While these conditions are not representative of the average that we will encounter on our way around the world, it was quite interesting since it was the first time we all lined up side by side. Ericsson won the race by starting to the left and going to the left corner where they picked up a bit more pressure. We managed a third which I was pleased with for an opener. What was most useful to us was to see some of the specialty sails that the other measured in and to see if they are worthy of on of our precious 24 sails cards. We did see some “Code 0’s” which were not impressive and if they don

Most of the Pirate crew arrived in Cape Town yesterday to join the shore team, some of whom have been here since the 25th of November. We have a great set up here again thanks to the help of Pescanova. Our boat is inside a purpose built shed with all of our containers around it forming an operations base which has been named, “Pirate City” by the locals. In fact, we even have our own address; Pirate City, North Wharf V & A Waterfront, Cape Town.

Since November 14th, work on the Black Pearl has been non stop save for about four days to transport the boat to Cape Town. The repairs we had to make were extensive and subsequently, last Saturday, our designers have recommended additional reinforcements in the keel ram support structure, which have added to the list. Additional to these larger repairs, we had our own list of typical work like continuing to waterproof the boat, fine tuning the workings of the galley, improving the reliability of the instruments, reducing friction in sheaves, etc. We have to submit a list to the race committee of all work to be done during the stopovers and today we received the list of work being done by all boats. This is mostly just the major jobs but still the length of list is impressive. I think we are going to have to increase our maintenance budget.

We are pushing hard to wind up the major work by Sunday and put the Pearl back in the water. Our plan is to go for a harbour sail on Monday to make sure everything works and then go for an offshore sail on Tuesday-Thursday. We want to put the boat through a thorough check out in all conditions before leaving for Melbourne.

Yesterday the Ericsson guys gave us the lowdown on what happened with their keel during the leg. It is a bit more of problem than they thought originally and since we have the same hydraulic system, we will be doing a precautionary modification to our system as well.

All in all, we are in pretty good shape. All the teams have a lot of work to do and thanks to the time savings of flying the boat; we are relatively ahead of the group with all the work that needs to be done.

Additional to the good set up for the boat, we have very nice living situation just across from Pirate City and we have our food service within Pirate City so that is very convenient as well.

We have one new crew member joining the team here in Cape Town. Anthony Merrington (AUS) first joined the Pirates of the Caribbean shore crew in early October in Spain. Anthony has more than 120,000 offshore nautical miles of experience and is a veteran of the Volvo Ocean Race, having sailed with Team SEB in 2001-2002. Merrington is replacing Freddy Loof who decided to withdraw from the team. Freddy wants to continue to focus on Olympics Sailing and Match Racing. Freddy was a great contributor to the Pirates and we will miss him.

Yesterday, December 7th, we also welcomed another new Pirate; Frederick James Salter (Navigator) arrived at 1025 UTC this morning. He weighed 8 pounds (3.64kg in €). Cabrini and Fred are both doing well and Edward is looking forward to a fight with his new brother.

On December 16th Pescanova has invited 1000 young South African School children to come to Pirate City and meet the team, view the boat and get a bit of insight into this race and what it is like to sail around the world. It is a four hour program and the children will be from all walks of life from the Cape Town area.

Many of our families will be with us for Christmas. I know my children are looking forward to it and I am happy that everyone on the team will have their family here in South Africa; it is a great opportunity. Although I have been here before, it really struck me yesterday flying into the airport, we are in Africa. It is a vast continent… large, arid plains… where human civilization began. It still has a wild frontier like feel to it even though Cape Town is a large and modern City. This is what is cool about racing around the world… seeing all the different cultures.

Paul Cayard

Pirates of the Caribbean