Skipper Neil Murray admits that, with two bad results, his crew can’t win and tells them they must come to terms with that. Crewmember Georgia Williams reports on the aftermath of an emotional crew meeting:
‘The mental challenges faced by BT Global Challenge crews living in hot and cramped conditions have been immense. But the greatest psychological hurdle has probably been the bitter pill that Norwich Union has had to swallow in accepting, in view of her trailing position, that the crew cannot achieve their ultimate goal of winning the race.
‘A week before the crew’s estimated arrival in Buenos Aires, skipper Neil Murray called a special meeting to spell it out and ask the team to refocus its objectives for the next leg. Some have had to do some serious soul-searching, while others have been quicker to accept their fate and make the most of a fantastic leg.
‘However, the crew is united by their faith in their winning abilities and will be sailing into Buenos Aires with their heads held high, confident that they are still a force to be reckoned with. But Neil Murray admits: “Basically we are in a situation now where we are not going to make a big gain and we are looking at finishing in last place in this leg. A poor result in the last leg and this leg leaves us unable to achieve the goal we set ourselves at the start, which is to be respected winners. We won’t be able to carry two bad results. This is difficult to handle, but we need to move forward and set ourselves a new goal.
‘”There is nothing wrong with the way we are sailing the boat. This is a long leg and we have been in very tricky situation and I think everyone has coped with it very well, on the whole. It is not easy to see your dream slipping away.
‘”The things I have been thinking about, and no doubt you have as well, are the consequences of this. What do my friends and family think? What do the sponsors think and what do I think? I would be extremely surprised if anyone’s friends and family wouldn’t be proud and pleased for you as long as you get a lot out of this race and enjoy it.
‘”As far as the sponsors go, that is a very big one for me. The ideal would be to win every leg, however nobody from what I can tell in Norwich Union thinks we are a lost cause.
‘”The really tricky one is the personal one, the one inside your head, particularly if you are used to setting high goals and targets and driving yourself to achieve them. But in my opinion it is crazy to do anything other than put it behind you and think that if we are not going to win the race, we can still win other legs and have an amazingly good time and show we can be serious competitors within the fleet.
‘”We have a long road ahead of us. I know it’s not easy, but you have to allow yourself to enjoy it. I have found it very hard to deal with, but I now feel better as I have moved on.”
‘In response to crew concerns about how tactics could be improved in future legs, Neil said: “I am determined to track the positions of the other boats much more carefully and really examine what they are up to and stick with them to avoid the separation we have had.”
‘He asked the crew to go away and digest the situation before feeding their revised objectives back to him. But most of the crew, having had plenty of thinking time during the leg, were ready with support and ideas.
‘Annabel Pearson said: “On the last leg I was hugely disappointed not to win and I reviewed some of my personal objectives for the race at the time. I have spent three years preparing for the race and feel it would be an absolute shame to waste that time by not getting enjoyment from the race if we do not win. I have already had so many great experiences, even before crossing the start line. While I wanted to win desperately, we can have a damn good try at winning remaining legs. It is really important as a team to have these goals.
‘”I would be absolutely devastated if I had to get off the boat for a