Sailing: Feeling the frustration from full body abuse

Grant Dalton, Amer Sports One's skipper, is confident of success despite losing ground in the Volvo Ocean Race

I am not happy. Whatever any others think I may have gained by luck earlier in the race – and I dispute that – I have lost by misfortune on the fourth leg of the Volvo Ocean Race, from Auckland to Rio de Janeiro. I suppose what comes around goes around, but to have an 11-mile lead and the prospect of a second place 24 hours before the finish and then to see it all fall the pieces in the last eight, with the lights of Rio clearly visible, was very frustrating.

I am not happy. Whatever any others think I may have gained by luck earlier in the race – and I dispute that – I have lost by misfortune on the fourth leg of the Volvo Ocean Race, from Auckland to Rio de Janeiro. I suppose what comes around goes around, but to have an 11-mile lead and the prospect of a second place 24 hours before the finish and then to see it all fall the pieces in the last eight, with the lights of Rio clearly visible, was very frustrating.

When, finally, we did cross the line in fifth place I looked up at the famous statue of Christ the Redeemer and thought to myself: "Well, this time you were not my friend". It was a perfect result for John Kostecki, the overall leader in illbruck.

If they could have written the script themselves, they could hardly have hoped for better. It was born in heaven for them. They sailed very well and they deserved to win, but I have seen this movie many times so I am still confident of a happy ending.

But, to see a backmarker like Knut Frostad's djuice take second place, while ourselves, second overall, were knocked back to fifth, just means they were able to deepen the cushion between themselves and their nearest rival.

And all this at a time when there was another kind of paradox playing itself out. We had come out of Auckland calling for a better result, we sailed aggressively, and we were second round Cape Horn. So the result in the record books has masked our true performance. All luck apart, I was happy to say, when we were second into Cape Town at the end of the first leg, that our true position in the fleet, having started the campaign late, was probably about fifth. Now we are fifth into Rio and I believe our true position in the fleet has improved to second. I think we have arrived, we are OK now, we are on the pace.

It is easy to forget that, physically, this was a hell of a leg. There was a lot of ice, big winds and seas. My body was beaten up and I have lost weight, including a lot of muscle.

One of problems we all have to look for is the "fuse" effect of weaknesses in the boat. On the old basis that it is the weakest link that gives way first, the stresses have an unerring way of seeking that out. At times it has been rigging, or deck fittings, even masts. At the moment it may look as though the problem has shifted to rudders.

But, although I have yet to see the full details of what happened to News Corp on this last leg, as far as I can gather all three rudders that have broken so far have been for different reasons and the problem on the third leg for our own Amer Sports Too was to do with collision damage, not structural failure.

My own feeling at the moment is that the "fuse" which is blowing most consistently on this race is not equipment but people. I do not say that just because I had personal problems with a back injury after a fall on leg two. On the last leg, too, I have had a real problem with what used to be called trench foot – in both feet. A combination of pain and numbness has meant I have had to fly home to Auckland for a consultation yesterday with a circulation specialist.

But there has been a general problem throughout the fleet of niggling, and sometimes more serious, injury. The way these boats are being driven may be a testimony to the way they have been built, but that relentless pressure is transferring itself to vulnerable human bone and tissue. The problems are not just because the conditions are so tough, but because we are all pushing so hard.

Our whole watch system collapsed as the regular four on, four off all merged into each other. You just grabbed an hour's sleep when you could and meals were all out of joint. I've never had it happen like that, but it was because there was so much work to be done. At least that meant you just lived from watch to watch and the time went very quickly, but it was a physical encounter with a blunt instrument. Full body abuse.

That changes for the next leg to Miami, where Dee Smith will be back as tactician to work alongside Roger Nilson, our navigator, and Paul Cayard returns to San Francisco. We also have a whole load of new sails, which we hope will improve our speed again. But we need a good result and we have to skirt the Doldrums and negotiate the West Indies. We are not defending second; there are still five legs to go and we still want to be first. But illbruck has stamped the authority I believe to be important. We know the size of the task ahead.

News
people
Sport
FootballGerman sparks three goals in four minutes at favourite No 10 role
News
Rumer was diagnosed with bipolarity, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder: 'I was convinced it was a misdiagnosis'
peopleHer debut album caused her post-traumatic stress - how will she cope as she releases her third record?
Sport
A long jumper competes in the 80-to-84-year-old age division at the 2007 World Masters Championships
athletics
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Sport
Radamel Falcao was forced to withdraw from the World Cup after undergoing surgery
premier leagueExclusive: Reds have agreement with Monaco
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvHe is only remaining member of original cast
Life and Style
Walking tall: unlike some, Donatella Versace showed a strong and vibrant collection
fashionAlexander Fury on the staid Italian clothing industry
Arts and Entertainment
Gregory Porter learnt about his father’s voice at his funeral
music
Arts and Entertainment
tvHighs and lows of the cast's careers since 2004
Life and Style
Children at the Leytonstone branch of the Homeless Children's Aid and Adoption Society tuck into their harvest festival gifts, in October 1936
food + drinkThe harvest festival is back, but forget cans of tuna and packets of instant mash
Sport
Lewis Hamilton will start the Singapore Grand Prix from pole, with Nico Rosberg second and Daniel Ricciardo third
F1... for floodlit Singapore Grand Prix
New Articles
i100
Life and Style
Couples have been having sex less in 2014, according to a new survey
life
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Volunteer Trustee opportunities now available at The Society for Experimental Biology

Unpaid Voluntary Position : Reach Volunteering: Volunteer your expertise as Tr...

Early Years Educator

£68 - £73 per day + Competitive rates of pay based on experience: Randstad Edu...

Nursery Nurse

£69 - £73 per day + Competitive London rates of pay: Randstad Education Group:...

Primary KS1 NQTs required in Lambeth

£117 - £157 per day + Competitive London rates: Randstad Education Group: * Pr...

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam