At the halfway point we're in that longed for 1st place. Now is not the time to let up says Global Challenge skipper Dee Caffari
Position: 100 miles from waypoint bravo
Weather: Sunny spells
Heading: At the waypoint
The one place we wanted to be was in front. We have just sailed 4,000 miles and have been 1st or 2nd the whole way. We now have 3,000 miles to keep it up. No pressure then, as the only way to go when you are on top is down. I think it is the best and the worst place to be all rolled into one.
During the previous legs we have been placed as high as 2nd before but every time it has been short-lived. This, along with life saving medical evacuations and a last place, has really taken the pressure off us but has built the frustration levels beyond belief.
I am naturally quite competitive and by no means did I take this race on for a jolly or somethi ng to fill in a few months. I believe all 12 skippers had the podium in sight when we set off from Portsmouth 6 months ago. However, results and experiences make you re-evaluate along the way and then goalposts are moved slightly as you manage the expectations of a hungry crew.
I knew after leg three [to Wellington], which frustratingly was our worst position [after a medical evacuation to the Chatham Islands], how well we could sail the yacht. We had good boat speed and a great attitude onboard. All I had to do then was point the yacht in the right direction. What could possibly go wrong?
One thing you learn quite quickly is that any extra miles sailed in this one-design fleet need to be significant to make them worthwhile. The shortest distance always wins. We almost have a mantra that I have to recite each day and that is: “Where is the rest of the fleet?” If we sail away from them I have to justify it to the crew.
That works great until you are in front. I hadn’t actually planned for that when it happened at the beginning. This position alters things a little because the weather meets you first and the shifts affect you first, so ultimately you tack first and to the crew, it looked to them as if I was committing the cardinal sin and leaving the rest of the fleet.
We have now got used to the decision-making process that takes place and can see by every sched how many miles they catch us or we can extend between us and them. These distances are getting a little distorted as we close waypoint bravo. The constant discussion of height over boat speed when sailing is a continuing battle, especially in an upwind race but we are all clear that now is the time to push.
The crews are tired and we have just crossed the halfway point. The weather will improve and the drive for pushing these yachts to the limit must continue at all costs. There is no way we are in this position now after 4,000 miles to see it slip away to the others that have already had their moment of glory. This time, the moment is ours onboard Imagine it. Done.
Dee Caffari, skipper Imagine it. Done