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.

PROMOTED VIDEO
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

Tradewind Recruitment: Phase Co-ordinator for Foundation and Key Stage 1

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: Phase Co-ordinator for Foundation and Key S...

Tradewind Recruitment: SEN Teacher

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: SEN Teacher We have a fantastic special n...

Tradewind Recruitment: History Teacher

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: My client is an 11-18 all ability co-educat...

Tradewind Recruitment: Year 6 Teacher

£100 - £150 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: Year 6 Teacher Birmingham Jan 2015...

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee