Shared ammunition hints at war of attrition

Grant Dalton skippered New Zealand Endeavour to victory in the 1993/94 Whitbread Round the World yacht race and wrote regular accounts of his progress in the Independent. This year he will skipper Merit Cup in the seventh Whitbread and will tell the story of his part in the competition in our pages. With the start of the race on 21 September less than three months away, Dalton looks ahead to his fifth round the world venture

This will be my fifth Whitbread and it already feels different from every previous race. Not because there is any lack of intensity: with such big budget, high technology campaigns the pressures and complexities make bigger and bigger demands. Not because it will be any easier to sail: I am four years older, the W60 boats (last time we were in a maxi) are deservedly known for being fast, wet and wild, and the competition out there is of a calibre to make anyone of a timid nature curl up and call for help.

But when I wake up in the morning these days I am more relaxed than either I or my team can remember. The reason is not just that I have a great crew on which I can rely. It is also that, in previous races, the game could be over almost two years before it began, depending on decisions about the design of the yacht.

This time all the top campaigns have enough money, the crews are international, even Lawrie Smith's including New Zealand and Ireland, and everyone has been working hard on developing the new styles of sail to give the best performance. So the ammunition is equally shared and remarkably similar.

It made all the more curious some good, old-fashioned spying. We discovered that a person or persons unknown had been on our boat, photographing everything, even lifting the floorboards. What they expected to learn I do not know. These boat are all very similar.

I have had the advantage of trialling two new boats against each other and it was difficult enough for us to make the call over which one to choose. Throughout the development phase in the waters off New Zealand we held a crew meeting at the end of each week to discuss which to race and there was often a 50/50 split.

There was hardly a difference between them and we have had to consider only what we think the weather will do. Now we have made that choice and the race boat is being shipped to England while the second boat, which may still be raced if a syndicate comes forward wanting to buy it, is on its way to Portugal and then Italy to do some promotional work for the Merit Cup brand of clothes which is my sponsor.

It will also visit Monaco, home of our club the Yacht Club de Monaco. Prince Albert has already shown considerable interest and we expect to see him at some of the stopovers.

The boat we have picked will have its first major outing in the Fastnet Race, as will a lot of our competitors. But beware making any judgments on the outcome of that race. If it goes to form then there will be a lot of upwind work to that bleak bit of rock off the south-west coast of Ireland.

But, in picking the design of the hull and the sails to drive it, we have had to analyse the conditions on the Whitbread track, which are normally far more to do with reaching and running. Times back to Plymouth from the rock rather than from Cowes out to it may be more important, assuming similar weather for all of us.

This is my fifth Whitbread and some people think that might be because I can't find anything else to do. But I'm probably enjoying this one, so far, more than any other. I have a top line crew, solid as a brick, I'm enjoying the 60s much more than I thought, they are really fast, powerful and exciting, and the relationship with the sponsor is very comfortable.

The development period was hindered only by a few lost days of heavy weather and we quickly learned that, if something was going to break on one boat it would quickly go on the other. So we always replaced everything immediately on both.

Now we are more than ready to go.

News
A Brazilian wandering spider
news

World's most lethal spider found under a bunch of bananas

News
people
Sport
Mario Balotelli pictured in the win over QPR
footballInternet reacts to miss shocker for Liverpool striker
Voices
Sol Campbell near his home in Chelsea
voices
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
i100
News
Kimi the fox cub
newsBurberry under fire from animal rights group - and their star, Kimi
Sport
Fans of Palmeiras looks dejected during the match between Palmeiras and Santos
footballPalmeiras fan killed trying to 'ambush' bus full of opposition supporters
Arts and Entertainment
filmsIt's nearly a wrap on Star Wars: Episode 7, producer reveals
Life and Style
fashion
News
i100
News
<p>Jonathan Ross</p>
<p>Jonathan Ross (or Wossy, as he’s affectionately known) has been on television and radio for an extraordinarily long time, working on a seat in the pantheon of British presenters. Hosting Friday Night with Jonathan Ross for nine years, Ross has been in everything from the video game Fable to Phineas and Ferb. So it’s probably not so surprising that Ross studied at Southampton College of Art (since rebranded Southampton Solent), a university known nowadays for its media production courses.</p>
<p>However, after leaving Solent, Ross studied History at the School of Slavonic and East European Studies, now part of the UCL, a move that was somewhat out of keeping with the rest of his career. Ross was made a fellow of the school in 2006 in recognition of his services to broadcasting.</p>
TV

Rumours that the star wants to move on to pastures new

News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
The cast of Downton Abbey indulge in some racing at a Point to Point
tvNew pictures promise a day at the races and a loved-up Lady Rose
News
people

Comedian says he 'never laughed as hard as I have writing with Rik'

Arts and Entertainment
Tim Wonnacott dancing the pasadoble
TVStrictly Come Dancing The Result
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

Primary General Cover Teachers needed

£110 - £130 per day + Competitive rates of pay: Randstad Education Reading: Pr...

Year 2 Teachers needed for day to day roles

£110 - £130 per day + Competitive rates of pay: Randstad Education Reading: Ye...

Year 6 Teachers needed for supply roles

£110 - £130 per day + Competitive rates of pay: Randstad Education Reading: Ye...

Year 5 Teachers needed for supply roles

£110 - £130 per day + Competitive rates of pay: Randstad Education Reading: Ye...

Day In a Page

Oscar Pistorius sentencing: The athlete's wealth and notoriety have provoked a long overdue debate on South African prisons

'They poured water on, then electrified me...'

If Oscar Pistorius is sent to jail, his experience will not be that of other inmates
James Wharton: The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

Life after the Army has brought new battles for the LGBT activist James Wharton
Ebola in the US: Panic over the virus threatens to infect President Obama's midterms

Panic over Ebola threatens to infect the midterms

Just one person has died, yet November's elections may be affected by what Republicans call 'Obama's Katrina', says Rupert Cornwell
Premier League coaches join the RSC to swap the tricks of their trades

Darling, you were fabulous! But offside...

Premier League coaches are joining the RSC to learn acting skills, and in turn they will teach its actors to play football. Nick Clark finds out why
How to dress with authority: Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear

How to dress with authority

Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear
New book on Joy Division's Ian Curtis sheds new light on the life of the late singer

New book on Ian Curtis sheds fresh light on the life of the late singer

'Joy Division were making art... Ian was for real' says author Jon Savage
Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

The Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Barbra Streisand is his true inspiration
Tim Minchin, interview: The musician, comedian and world's favourite ginger is on scorching form

Tim Minchin interview

For a no-holds-barred comedian who is scathing about woolly thinking and oppressive religiosity, he is surprisingly gentle in person
Boris Johnson's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Boris's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Many of us Brits still disapprove of conspicuous consumption – it's the way we were raised, says DJ Taylor
Ash frontman Tim Wheeler reveals how he came to terms with his father's dementia

Tim Wheeler: Alzheimer's, memories and my dad

Wheeler's dad suffered from Alzheimer's for three years. When he died, there was only one way the Ash frontman knew how to respond: with a heartfelt solo album
Hugh Bonneville & Peter James: 'Peter loves his classic cars; I've always pootled along fine with a Mini Metro. I think I lack his panache'

How We Met: Hugh Bonneville & Peter James

'Peter loves his classic cars; I've always pootled along fine with a Mini Metro. I think I lack his panache'
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's heavenly crab dishes don't need hours of preparation

Bill Granger's heavenly crab recipes

Scared off by the strain of shelling a crab? Let a fishmonger do the hard work so you can focus on getting the flavours right
Radamel Falcao: How faith and love drive the Colombian to glory

Radamel Falcao: How faith and love drive the Colombian to glory

After a remarkable conversion from reckless defender to prolific striker, Monaco's ace says he wants to make his loan deal at Old Trafford permanent
Terry Venables: Premier League managers must not be allowed to dictate who plays and who does not play for England

Terry Venables column

Premier League managers must not be allowed to dictate who plays and who does not play for England
The Inside Word: Brendan Rodgers looks to the future while Roy Hodgson is ghost of seasons past

Michael Calvin's Inside Word

Brendan Rodgers looks to the future while Roy Hodgson is ghost of seasons past