Leg 1 – Whitbread

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

talented crews.

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