Paul Cayard and a challenge with Desafio

Paul Cayard is a sailing legend. The winner of the Louis Vuitton Cup with Il Moro di Venezia in 1992, he won the Whitbread Round the World race 1997/1998 and has been involved with several successful sailing teams in a number of regattas. Prior to the start of the Louis Vuitton Cup he spent two months as a technical and sporting advisor for Desafío Español 2007.

What was you main role in Desafío Español 2007?

I mostly gave them ideas on what the priorities should be at this late stage in the competition. In the America’s Cup you make a plan two years before, and you also start a lot of projects. Research into special masts, special keels, rudders… Many projects are put in motion. And you get to the end and obviously these plans aren’t all finished. One mistake is to continue spending money, time and energy chasing something that isn’t going to give any fruit. With experience you know which ones to cut to save energy, time and money, and use it somewhere else, where you will see the results. That is really the important game in the end.

Besides the budget, what are the main differences between a winning team and a losing team?

The difference is when to make a decision. 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.

The Cup has got to a stage where all the teams are multicultural, what are the challenges they are facing?

One big challenge for the Desafío is not only the language but the culture, and I know it well because I worked with Il Moro di Venezia as an American. When you have multicultural teams I think everybody has to come to a common denominator that is not the language. So what is it? The professionalism, respect and solidarity: the fact that everyday at 8.00 we are all in the gym fighting together. When we lose the race, we lose together, and when we win the race we win together. It goes beyond the language and the culture. You have to go beyond that to find what it is that is keeping us together. And I hope that by just talking about it we made everybody think about it. But for sure that is going to be a challenge for Desafio. Every team will lose a race here with somebody that they thought they should beat. But the question is, when they lose that race, are they going to lose their solidarity as well? Or are they going to stay tight and come out for the next race again with 110% on the table?

What was a typical day like with Desafío?

8.00 Gym, 9.00 shower, 9.15 breakfast, 9.45 interviews, 10.15 head of departments meeting, crew meeting, then performance meeting. 12.30 out on the water. 5 or 6 dock, take sails off the boat, fold genoas in the loft. Short meeting for department heads to make a plan, performance analysis of the day. 8.00pm home.

Paco Tormo/AB