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.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

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

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Online Sales and Customer Services Executive

£15000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An On-line Sales & Customer Ser...

Recruitment Genius: Accounts Assistant - Fixed Term Contract - 6 Months

£15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the largest hospitality companies...

Recruitment Genius: Electricians - Fixed Wire Testing

£28000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: As a result of significant cont...

Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Advisor

£16575 - £19000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An excellent opportunity is ava...

Day In a Page

Seifeddine Rezgui: What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?

Making of a killer

What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?
UK Heatwave: Temperatures on the tube are going to exceed the legal limit for transporting cattle

Just when you thought your commute couldn't get any worse...

Heatwave will see temperatures on the Tube exceed legal limit for transporting cattle
Exclusive - The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Swapping Bucharest for London

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Meet the man who swapped Romania for the UK in a bid to provide for his family, only to discover that the home he left behind wasn't quite what it seemed
Katy Perry prevented from buying California convent for $14.5m after nuns sell to local businesswoman instead

No grace of God for Katy Perry as sisters act to stop her buying convent

Archdiocese sues nuns who turned down star’s $14.5m because they don’t approve of her
Ajmer: The ancient Indian metropolis chosen to be a 'smart city' where residents would just be happy to have power and running water

Residents just want water and power in a city chosen to be a ‘smart’ metropolis

The Indian Government has launched an ambitious plan to transform 100 of its crumbling cities
Michael Fassbender in 'Macbeth': The Scottish play on film, from Welles to Cheggers

Something wicked?

Films of Macbeth don’t always end well - just ask Orson Welles... and Keith Chegwin
10 best sun creams for body

10 best sun creams for body

Make sure you’re protected from head to toe in the heatwave
Women's World Cup 2015: How England's semi-final success could do wonders for both sexes

There is more than a shiny trophy to be won by England’s World Cup women

The success of the decidedly non-famous females wearing the Three Lions could do wonders for a ‘man’s game’ riddled with excess, cynicism and greed
How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth: Would people co-operate to face down a global peril?

How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth

Would people cooperate to face a global peril?
Just one day to find €1.6bn: Greece edges nearer euro exit

One day to find €1.6bn

Greece is edging inexorably towards an exit from the euro
New 'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could help surgeons and firefighters, say scientists

'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could become reality

Holographic projections would provide extra information on objects in a person's visual field in real time
Sugary drinks 'are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year'

Sugary drinks are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year

The drinks that should be eliminated from people's diets
Pride of Place: Historians map out untold LGBT histories of locations throughout UK

Historians map out untold LGBT histories

Public are being asked to help improve the map
Lionel, Patti, Burt and The Who rock Glasto

Lionel, Patti, Burt and The Who rock Glasto

This was the year of 24-carat Golden Oldies
Paris Fashion Week

Paris Fashion Week

Thom Browne's scarecrows offer a rare beacon in commercial offerings