A clear case of time and tide having to wait for all men: Grant Dalton, skipper of New Zealand Endeavour in the Round the World Race, who is writing for the Independent, on rewards for rescue

Click to follow
The Independent Online
THE problem of how to calculate and award compensation to other competitors who go to the aid of a yacht in distress has raised the usual debate. Those who

responded to the call to rescue Brooksfield hope their estimate of time lost will be accepted and those who are racing against them will be watching to see that they are not disadvantaged.

I do not believe it is an issue of how much time they gained or lost, or where they were in the fleet when they broke off. I believe it is an issue about safety and lives.

Therefore it should be seen by the international jury, which

decides these issues, as something that should encourage people to go back. I think that Winston should be given the same leg time as the winning Whitbread 60, Intrum Justitia, and that La Poste should be given the same leg time as the winning maxi, Merit Cup.

You have got to be rewarded

because, when you are out there with 3,000 miles to go and going forward at 20 knots, to stop everything and turn around is hard. Even the knowledge that you are going to have to be out there for an extra couple of days is daunting. You have to be paid for that.

There are, of course, some selfish thoughts that go through your mind ranging from not even knowing if the yacht and, more espcially, people you are going to help will still even be there, to knowing also that they should be able to look after themselves.

The jury should take a strong lead in this case because it is not like a 450-miler where helicopters and other support services are at hand. In the Whitbread, in the southern ocean, you can only rely on your fellow-competitors.

I know that some may think that my proposal conveniently undermines my competitors, in that it would reduce the value of Pierre Fehlmann's win and puts more pressure on the leading W60, which is also now the overall race leader, Chris Dickson's Tokio.

My main answer to that is how do you put a price on lives? And don't forget that I, too, would be giving time to La Poste and I am prepared to, because they went back.

You also cannot cut all emotion out of this. You have to put yourself in the position of the people on Brooksfield, look at it through their eyes. They know they have screwed up but they also know their lives are on the line.

You have to know that, if you are in the water and have only a limited time in which you can hope to survive before the freezing water squeezes the life out of you, it is worth fighting.

And it is only worth fighting and hanging on if you know that someone is going to be making every

effort to come back for you. The skipper needs to build into his leadership plan at that time the ability to reassure his crew and urge them to hang on because he knows an attempt will be made to rescue them all. So if every

encouragement to out-and-out competitors includes reward, then there should be a reward in rescue circumstances.

Even without that, we were duty yacht when the Brooksfield distress response was being co- ordinated so I ought to add that both Brad Butterworth on Winston and Daniel Malle on La Poste did not hesitate for a moment.

As for the rest of the leg, we did not win and that is what we are there to do, but we did not lose by all that much, either, given the loss of so much sail power when the mizzen mast went.

We were asked if any of the crew deserved a medal for the way they handled a dangerous and devastating situation and the only

answer is that all of them did and none of them would expect one.

Apart from replacing the mast, there is again very little damage to the boat and we could start again next Saturday if we had to.

We have retained the lead in the maxi class, are determined to

restore our position at the head of both classes, and have the huge

incentive of what looks like being the biggest ever reception when the race arrives in our home town, Auckland.

WHITBREAD ROUND THE WORLD RACE Second leg (Punta Del Este, Urug to Fremantle, Aus): Positions with miles to the finish (estimated by BT results service): Maxi class: 3 Laposte, 543; 4 Uruquay Natural 1,260. Whitbread Sixties: Fifth finisher: Winston, 26 days 12hrs 8min 43sec; 6 Hetman Sahaidachny, 875 miles to go; 7 Women's Challenge, 909; 8 Odessa 1,264; 9 Dolphin & Youth 1,468. Brooksfield position not recorded since 13.55 GMT 6 December.