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.

News
i100 In this video, the late actor Leonard Nimoy explains how he decided to use the gesture for his character
Arts and Entertainment
Secrets of JK Rowling's Harry Potter workings have been revealed in a new bibliography
arts + ents
News
Down-to-earth: Winstone isn't one for considering his 'legacy'
people
News
news
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
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

Sauce Recruitment: Retail Planning Manager - Home Entertainment UK

salary equal to £40K pro-rata: Sauce Recruitment: Are you available to start a...

Ashdown Group: Front-End Developer - London - up to £40,000

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Creative Front-End Developer - Claph...

Recruitment Genius: Product Quality Assurance Technologist - Hardline & Electric

£18000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The role in this successful eco...

Ashdown Group: QA Tester - London - £30,000

£28000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: QA Tester - London - £30,000 QA Tes...

Day In a Page

HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

Time to play God

Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

MacGyver returns, but with a difference

Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

Tunnel renaissance

Why cities are hiding roads underground
'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

Boys to men

The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

Crufts 2015

Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
10 best projectors

How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

Monaco: the making of Wenger

Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

Homage or plagiarism?

'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower