Sailing: At last we have a gameplan that works: When all else fails, do nothing

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The Independent Online

Another leg, another perspective. We were under a lot of pressure, much of it external in Miami, for better results as discussion centred around a campaign that had been doing well, but had slipped away. It was one of those scenarios where you just had to have faith in the structure and the strength of the team.

Another leg, another perspective. We were under a lot of pressure, much of it external in Miami, for better results as discussion centred around a campaign that had been doing well, but had slipped away. It was one of those scenarios where you just had to have faith in the structure and the strength of the team.

We knew what a difference a week could make. It would have been too easy to spin all sorts of answers to questions about what we were going to do and I said in this paper that I was going to take a positive decision not to do anything because I did not think anything was broken.

If we had arrived in Baltimore and things were still bad, then I might have thought something was broken and needed fixing. It isn't broken.

So, it's been satisfying to me that a deliberate decision to do nothing, which was the harder of the two options, has proved correct. My faith in experience has not let me down.

But nothing has changed. Coming in second may look as if things have come right, but inwardly nothing is any different. The structure, the guys, the boat are still the same.

As for the next leg, will it be good or bad? I don't plan to change anything here either but I never saw the problem as one of waiting for any of the top three boats to come back to us. We had to climb up to them.

And for that I would give a huge amount of credit to our weather analyst 'Clouds', the Sydney-based Roger Badham. His pre-race briefing was spot on and that meant we could position ourselves on the course in exactly the right place. The first part of the course was easy, but the run up Chesapeake Bay was bloody tricky.

We were in an impossible position with the leader, News Corp, whom we had overtaken, going one way, the chasing pack going the other and we were piggy in the middle. It was more important for us to cover Assa Abloy and illbruck behind us; we wanted to beat them just a little more than we needed to beat News Corp.

That meant the leg was very intense, even though it only lasted just over three days. It may not have been as hard physically, but we spent so much time working at it that I finished feeling more tired than I would at the end of a much longer leg.

We were also sure that we did the right thing by taking fewer sails – another example of confidence in Clouds paying off – and one of the guys said that the fat girl (our boat, Amer Sports One) enjoyed being on a diet.

We will be fully geared up for the next leg across the Atlantic, but I think you could see not only people and sails being left on the dock for the last leg from Gothenburg to Kiel, but some similar thinking for the leg from La Rochelle up to Kiel.

I stand by my feeling that this race is now, essentially, for second, third, and fourth, especially if the overall leader, John Kostecki, takes illbruck to another top-three spot on the next leg. Mathematically, we and others could still win, and gear failure could always turn things.

What is not helpful is talk of sending us all on a bus trip round the Channel and Western Approaches on the leg from La Rochelle up to Sweden just because the race committee is worried about us arriving too early for them to have cleared the boats from our marina. Surely they have had enough time to work that out? The trouble is that the more turning marks you put into the course the less opportunity there is for us to make our own tactical decisions and we need that if we are to separate from illbruck.

Longer term, everybody is talking about future races. I am still undecided and too many of the inputs have been driven by self-interest. But, it would be helpful to crystallise at least the decision to stage the next race, if only to stop any rivals from trying to establish a foothold.

For us, there is this race to finish. I know I tend to air my worries and complaints publicly, but that is largely because I am always striving for perfection. I was a worried man in Miami, but I am a little happier in Maryland.

Grant Dalton, the skipper of Amer Sports One, was talking to Stuart Alexander at the end of the Miami to Baltimore leg of the Volvo Ocean Race

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