Sailing: Whitbread Round The World Race: Aggressive racing in similar boats puts premium on tactical choice

After four of the nine legs of the Whitbread the time at home in Auckland has been a good one to sit down quietly and review everything before the second half this weekend.

This has been harder than any of the previous four Whitbread's in which I have sailed. We always say that. Every race seems to be tougher than the one before, though it can be difficult to say why this time. Not higher winds, more on-the-wind sailing, not wetter, colder, or hotter. Anyway, the unpleasant memories fade quickly and only the good parts of the previous race remain in the memory.

However, this race is different. It is tougher, measurably so. I have never sailed in a regatta that has so many Olympic medallists and world champions in the crews.

Another factor that makes this race tougher is that the boats are very similar in speed potential. That puts a premium on tactics. As we have seen, one wrong move and suddenly you're hundreds of miles off the pace. Every boat is having its turn at the back of the fleet and that's largely a result of the extremely aggressive tactics.

On the last two Whitbreads we were able to sail fairly conservatively and do well, but conservative tactics won't get you anywhere in this field. You have to get everything exactly right and go for it.

The yacht is holding up well to the pounding even though we broke a lot of gear on the first leg. In one gust, a shackle on the back stay with a 10,000-kilo breaking strain broke and we almost lost the mast. We changed the fittings in Cape Town and we have not had any problems since.

However, except for the beat into Auckland, we haven't had any big winds either since that first leg. We have blown out a few sails, but that's expected.

There has been speculation that we might have been better off with our second, beamier boat. All our research indicated that a narrower hull with less wetted surface would do better. However, the conditions encountered so far would have probably have better suited the other boat.

If this was an Olympic regatta we would be looking good so I suppose we are happy to be second overall at this point, but the fifth leg is very important.

We believe Merit Cup has still has not achieved its maximum potential in terms of speed. We are continuing our sail development programme, we are sailing more aggressively and the win into Auckland did wonders for morale.

As for the opposition, the position of the all-woman crew in EF Education does not do them justice. They are sailing competitively, but this is a very physical race and the men are at a distinct advantage.

I am at a loss to explain Silk Cut's relatively lacklustre performance, but we have seen some absolutely stunning sustained speeds and only a fool would write off Lawrie Smith.

Toshiba are still suffering from a bad first leg, but on the fourth leg from Sydney, it showed her potential. We can expect to see some more improvement.

Chessie Racing is coming good. She has a lot of potential still to be developed and she is improving fast.

A couple of good legs - a third and a second - then a fifth and a seventh show Innovation Kvaerner is going the wrong way. If I was Knut Frostad I would not be a happy man.

The form boat is definitely EF Language. Probably the fastest in the fleet, Paul Cayard's America's Cup experience is giving us all a few lessons in boat-to-boat racing.

Property
pets
Arts and Entertainment
tvGame of Thrones season 5 ep 4, review - WARNING: contains major spoiliers!
Arts and Entertainment
tvThe C-Word, TV review
Arts and Entertainment
The Ridiculous Six has been produced by Adam Sandler, who also stars in it
filmNew controversy after nine Native American actors walked off set
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Sport
Danny Jones was in the Wales squad for the 2013 World Cup
rugby leagueKeighley Cougars half-back was taken off after just four minutes
Life and Style
The original ZX Spectrum was simple to plug into your TV and get playing on
techThirty years on, the ZX Spectrum is back, after a fashion
News
Tiger Woods and Lindsey Vonn are breaking up after nearly three years together
peopleFormer couple announce separation in posts on their websites
Sport
football
Life and Style
Google celebrates Bartolomeo Cristofori's 360th birthday
techGoogle Doodle to the rescue
Arts and Entertainment
Haunted looks: Matthew Macfadyen and Timothy Spall star in ‘The Enfield Haunting’
tvThe Enfield Haunting, TV review
News
news
News
The Mattehorn stands reflected in Leisee lake near Sunnegga station on June 30, 2013 near Zermatt, Switzerland
news
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Digital Marketing Consultant

£28000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Senior Digital Marketing Cons...

Recruitment Genius: Assistant Stores Keeper

£16640 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Assistant Stores Keeper is r...

Recruitment Genius: Claims Administrator

£16000 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportunit...

Recruitment Genius: Software Developer - C# / ASP.NET / SQL

£17000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Developer required to join a bu...

Day In a Page

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

Everyone is talking about The Trews

Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living