Sailing: Whitbread Round the World Race - Weather eyes open as we leave the bad ju-ju behind

The third leg of the Whitbread Round the World Race, from Fremantle to Sydney, starts today. Merit Cup's skipper needs to engineer a recovery after a disappointing second leg left his boat in fifth place overall, but he still has faith in his crew and his strategy.

This has been a difficult stopover. Not because we had too much to do. More because we came through the last leg with very little damage and we have had too much time waiting impatiently to get underway again to erase the disappointment of being seventh on the last leg.

When you have taken a knock-down the natural thing is to get up and start fighting again. But we have had to wait for two frustrating weeks before we can throw a punch again. A mandatory eight count is bad enough. Fourteen days has been bloody awful.

Navigator Mike Quilter and I have analysed the strategies for the next leg over and over again as the boys have made good the little damage we suffered on the way over from Cape Town. But it is this morning, as we leave Fremantle Sailing Club for the start line, that we can square up again to the game.

Twice before the Whitbread run into Fremantle has been bad ju-ju and when I was here in 1986/7 with the New Zealand America's Cup team I was one of the tune-up crew. Fremantle is a great place and I can't wait to be away from it.

We have resisted the knee-jerk urge to make changes just because we had one bad result. We have confidence in the boat, the sails, and the crew. So why change everything? All the crews have been concentrating on weather and the choice of sails for a leg which will be a lot different from the previous two.

The options are fewer, the length is shorter, and once again the theory is that the fleet will be more bunched. Sooner or later that prediction has to come true. So there will be plenty of pressure and tension out there with the extra pressure on us being the need to bang in good result. In a way we are over the last one, but we won't really be over it until we are in Sydney with the target of a top three place achieved.

We are also aware that part of our hurt was based on old-fashioned feelings about the amount of time we were behind the winners. If we had been seventh by seven minutes instead of seven days we would still have scored the same points and it is points that decide the overall winner of this Whitbread/Volvo Race.

There came a point when we were so far behind that the race for us was over for that leg, and we sailed very conservatively for the rest of the time. This time the conditions are likely to be such that those behind will always have the chance to catch up, and those ahead will have to concentrate like mad to protect their lead. The general expectation is for a nine, maybe eight-day leg. We're taking enough food for 10 and are geared up to scrap every inch of the way.

One job I have not had to do is rebuild the crew in any way. They are far more relaxed than me and in Kevin Shoebridge I have a watch captain, boat-builder and sailmaker who would still be smiling and telling people to take things easy at the last trump.

But we know we have a lot of people in Britain, Italy and New Zealand who are looking for a big result this time and, of course, next. So this is when the structure of that team should be really valuable. Not as a collection of rock star individuals, but as a group of guys who can play really effectively for each other. And for their harassed skipper.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Barn owls are among species that could be affected
charity appeal
Sarah Silverman (middle) with sister Reform Rabbi Susan Silverman (right) and sister actress Laura Silverman (left) at Jerusalem's Western Wall for feminist Hanuka candle-lighting ceremony
peopleControversial comedian stages pro-equality Hanukkah lighting during a protest at Jerusalem's Wailing Wall
Arts and Entertainment
The Bach Choir has been crowned the inaugural winner of Sky Arts’ show The Great Culture Quiz
arts + ents140-year-old choir declared winner of Sky Arts' 'The Great Culture Quiz'
After another poor series in Sri Lanka, Alastair Cook claimed all players go through a lean period
cricketEoin Morgan reportedly to take over ODI captaincy
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Education

Opilio Recruitment: Product Owner

£40k - 45k per year + Benefits: Opilio Recruitment: We are currently recruit...

Opilio Recruitment: Product Development Manager

£40k - 45k per year + Benefits: Opilio Recruitment: We are currently recruit...

Recruitment Genius: Qualified Nursery Practitioner - Sevenoaks

£15000 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We currently have an opportunit...

Recruitment Genius: Room Leader - Nursery

£17000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We currently have an opportunit...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas