Sailing: Pressure rises as first taste of success sets mark for challenges ahead

The starting helmsman on GBR Challenge, Britain's America's Cup yacht, discovers there is no time to celebrate initial success as stakes rise at Louis Vuitton Cup

We have reached the first big milestone in the Louis Vuitton Cup and, while one team has reached a dead end, for GBR Challenge the signpost points forward.

It is easy to lose the significance of making it into the quarter-finals. When we arrived here, that was an unknown, it was something that we felt would probably happen, but in this game you never know until you know. Now we know, but there were never any guarantees that we would not finish last. But there has been no room for complacency, little even for celebration.

The ultimate goal was to be in the semi-finals. After the first round robin we thought it unlikely we would be last, so we set ourselves the punchy goal of perhaps being in the top four division for the quarter-finals, or at least fifth.

The top four means you are guaranteed two cracks at a semi-final slot, the importance of being fifth is that, as top boat of the second group, you can chose your opponent, but you have to win twice to make the semis. This has been a hard week and we have finished sixth.

The first thing we had to do was to ensure that we beat both Mascalzone Latino – and we all know just how they must be feeling now that they have been eliminated, it was everyone's biggest fear – and Le Defi Areva of France.

They were seen as the two bankers for points and we duly banked them. It was clean against Mascalzone, but we had to fight hard to come back from behind to beat the French.

One of the targets to push us up the table was Prada. We knew they had made changes from some wobbly performances in the first round, but did not know just what the effect would be. As it turned out, it produced not just one of the most exciting races of the round, but also of the whole regatta so far.

We were just ahead going into the first spinnaker run, they were just behind, right on our transom. There followed 20 minutes of the sort of ding-dong battle that keeps television commentators on high octane output, but it was slightly different on the back of the boat.

In situations like that we need to be able to control our own destiny, to be able to put the boat where we want. But, it is the opposite of motor racing, where the leading car can block the one behind. In this case, the boat behind can often control where we go and any risky move could easily lead to a penalty being called against us.

At the same time they were trying to put us under even greater pressure by constantly asking the umpires to award a penalty against us. During that time, the person driving ideally needs to watch the opposition, but that isn't physically possible as he is trying for maximum speed and direction as well as communicating with the sail trimmers.

As a consequence, there is quite a lot of dialogue between the people looking back and the people making the boat go forward. In some ways you cannot stop the anxiety level rising, because you are going to make a decision that will win or lose you the race. At the same time you cannot just throw all the cards in the air, you have to maintain composure, control the risk, and know that the whole crew will not become over-excited. That could lead to unrealistic risk and a loss.

As it turned out, it is possible we didn't take enough risk as Prada was able to squeeze by, round the bottom mark ahead, and defend their lead to the finish. However, we could have led round the bottom mark with a penalty and been unable to complete it before the finish. The end result would have been the same, a point to Prada. But overall we felt we sailed the race very well and the experience was invaluable. The team grows and grows.

It will have to. Every time I write this column I say that the pressure is growing, and it is again. This week we are supposed to have a couple of days off, but we also have to prepare not just one but two boats for the quarter-final.

We have yet to complete the comparative testing of GBR 70 with our new GBR 78 plus the comparative testing of GBR 70 after any changes we decide to make. We have to make a decision on which boat we will sail, though at least we will know long before that who our opponent is.

We also know that there will be no second chances. We have to win four races in the best of seven. If we do not, then most of us will be on our way home. The game has changed again. This time the stakes are even higher.

* Andy Beadsworth was talking to Stuart Alexander

News
Emma Watson has become the latest target of the 4Chan nude hacking scandal
peopleThreats follows actress' speech on feminism and equality at the UN
Life and Style
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
British actor Idris Elba is also a DJ and rapper who played Ibiza last summer
film
Life and Style
tech
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
tech
Life and Style
Alan Turing, who was convicted of gross indecency in 1952, was granted a royal pardon last year
life
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black and Ed Stoppard as her manager Brian Epstein
tvCilla Episode 2 review: Grit under the glamour in part two of biopic series starring Sheridan Smith
News
i100
Life and Style
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

Graduate Pricing Analyst - 6 months / 1 year analytical experience

£20000 - £25000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client is curr...

Head of Department - English

Negotiable: Randstad Education Bristol: Head of Department for English. Wiltsh...

Trainee Helpdesk Analyst / 1st Line Application Support Analyst

£18000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established and growing IT Consultancy fir...

Senior Management Accountant

£40000 - £46000 per annum: Sauce Recruitment: Global publishing and digital bu...

Day In a Page

Secret politics of the weekly shop

The politics of the weekly shop

New app reveals political leanings of food companies
Beam me up, Scottie!

Beam me up, Scottie!

Celebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
Beware Wet Paint: The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition

Beware Wet Paint

The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition
Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Can 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition?
Sanctuary for the suicidal

Sanctuary for the suicidal

One mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
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