Sailing: Satisfaction of success justifies living through hell

Andy Beadsworth, the new starting helmsman on GBR Challenge, contributes the first of his series of weekly columns from the America's Cup qualification series, the Louis Vuitton Cup, in Auckland.

Sunday night and this has been a good week. This has probably been my best week in the 18 months at GBR Challenge and, apart from getting married just over a year ago, the best week since the Olympic Games in Sydney. Going out to start the race against Prada on Thursday – I had survived the first day on Wednesday because racing was cancelled – was almost a relief.

The day before had been good because I had been able to settle back into the boat without being thrown in at the deep end. Unlike any other campaign I had been in, where you set your own goal and then work steadily towards it, here I was part of a team, working very hard, doing all the training, and yet was not taking part in the event.

And this was a real race. Due to the nature of America's Cup campaigns, I have done less races in those 18 months than at any time since I was in my teens. For someone whose whole life is to race, that can be hard.

There is often as much focus on the five minutes before an America's Cup race, when the two boats circle, push and shove each other as they fight for advantage as there on the two plus hours which the six legs then take to complete. The starting helmsman is probably the most pressured job in the race alongside the tactician.

The expectations of the whole team are on your shoulders and it can be a long two hours if anything goes wrong. You can lose the race before you have even started it. There is no second chance, no opportunity of a comeback. The way GBR Challenge, like Prada, has decided to go means that you hand that job over to the race helmsman, in this case our skipper, Ian Walker. And there is no escape from then having to work with the team to the maximum of your ability for the duration of the race. There is no point in burying your head in your hand and, in any case, there will be an in-depth analytical debrief at the end when 30-odd people will express, sometimes forcefully, their opinions.

Most of us in this game know each other, having raced against each other for a number of years. So we know each other's characteristics and before we ever line up a few things will already have been discussed. How can we play the opposition, to what extent will the conditions, and the known performance of the boat in those conditions, suit the way we would normally want to play it? What have the weather experts told us we should be aiming for in terms gaining control of either the right or left hand of the course.

But you have to be flexible, especially on the rapidly changing conditions of these Auckland race tracks. You have to be ready to make a quick change and then make it stick. One of the traps is having too fixed a preconception of what is going to happen in those five minutes. There is a level of risk which is acceptable and the level of risk goes up the more aggressive you are – but the rewards can be higher.

Behind executing the moves lie days and weeks and months of practice as I and my counterpart, Andy Green, made sure everyone on the boat knew what we were trying to achieve, how to achieve and then do everything at speed. At the end of the day the decisions are made and are constantly being updated, based on information from the tactician, navigator and strategist.

All the time the clock is ticking down. So my job has similarities with an American Football quarterback, except that he only calls one play at a time. I may have to make a string of calls from a playbook which has been the subject of hours of discussion and practice.

When it works, the satisfaction helps you understand why you put yourself under the pressure, the hell, the anxiety. Against the Swedes we achieved not just a good start but a winning start. Inevitably, we want more.

Andy Beadsworth was talking to Stuart Alexander

News
Netherlands' goalkeeper Tim Krul fails to make a save from Costa Rica's midfielder Celso Borges during a penalty shoot-out in the quarter-final between Netherlands and Costa Rica during the 2014 FIFA World Cup
newsGoalkeepers suffer from 'gambler’s fallacy' during shoot-outs
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Standing the test of time: Michael J Fox and Christopher Lloyd in 'Back to the Future'
filmReview: A week late, Secret Cinema arrives as interactive screening goes Back to the Future
Travel
travel
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Sydney and Melbourne are locked in a row over giant milk crates
artCultural relations between Sydney and Melbourne soured by row over milk crate art instillation
Arts and Entertainment
Adèle Exarchopoulos and Léa Seydoux play teeneage lovers in the French erotic drama 'Blue Is The Warmest Colour' - The survey found four times as many women admitting to same-sex experiences than 20 years ago
filmBlue Is The Warmest Colour, Bojack Horseman and Hobbit on the way
News
Two giraffes pictured on Garsfontein Road, Centurion, South Africa.
i100
Environment
View from the Llanberis Track to the mountain lake Llyn
Du’r Arddu
environmentA large chunk of Mount Snowdon, in north Wales, is up for sale
News
Kenny Ireland, pictured in 2010.
peopleBenidorm, actor was just 68
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
arts + ents
News
Morrissey pictured in 2013
people
News
people
News
A scene from the video shows students mock rioting
newsEnd-of-year leaver's YouTube film features playground gun massacre
News
i100
Life and Style
The director of Wall-E Andrew Stanton with Angus MacLane's Lego model
gadgetsDesign made in Pixar animator’s spare time could get retail release
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

Recruitment Consultant - Bristol - Computer Futures - £18-25k

£18000 - £25000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Computer Futures are currently...

Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Real Staffing - Leeds - £18k+

£18000 - £27000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Sales - Trainee Recruitment Co...

Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Manchester - Progressive Rec.

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Progressive Recruitment are cu...

Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Birmingham - Huxley Associates

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Huxley Associates are currentl...

Day In a Page

Dress the Gaza situation up all you like, but the truth hurts

Robert Fisk on Gaza conflict

Dress the situation up all you like, but the truth hurts
Save the tiger: Tiger, tiger burning less brightly as numbers plummet

Tiger, tiger burning less brightly

When William Blake wrote his famous poem there were probably more than 100,000 tigers in the wild. These days they probably number around 3,200
5 News's Andy Bell retraces his grandfather's steps on the First World War battlefields

In grandfather's footsteps

5 News's political editor Andy Bell only knows his grandfather from the compelling diary he kept during WWI. But when he returned to the killing fields where Edwin Vaughan suffered so much, his ancestor came to life
Lifestyle guru Martha Stewart reveals she has flying robot ... to take photos of her farm

Martha Stewart has flying robot

The lifestyle guru used the drone to get a bird's eye view her 153-acre farm in Bedford, New York
Former Labour minister Meg Hillier has demanded 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists

Do women cyclists need 'pootling lanes'?

Simon Usborne (who's more of a hurtler) explains why winning the space race is key to happy riding
A tale of two presidents: George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story

A tale of two presidents

George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story
Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover

The dining car makes a comeback

Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover
Gallery rage: How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?

Gallery rage

How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?
Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players

Eye on the prize

Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players
Women's rugby: Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup

Women's rugby

Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup
Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
We will remember them: relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War

We will remember them

Relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War
Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

Acting in video games gets a makeover

David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices