by Paul Cayard
An act of Piracy was committed on the waters off Gothenborg Sweden around mid day on June 17th. As good Pirates would, and should, we stole first place on Leg 9 from ABN2, just 20 miles from the finish line.
Paul Cayard talks with Rob Mundle after winning Leg 9 © Paul Todd
And what a treasure to steal! It was the biggest leg finish of the whole race, in every sense. There were 7000 boats on the sea, the first of which joined us half way between Denmark and Sweden. The shore was lined with a further 200,000 spectators. As we gybed our way down the ever narrowing channel into Gothenborg, the spectator craft became wall to wall. You could have walked the last ten miles of the leg..hopping from one boat to the next. Military boats tried to keep the main channel clear for us but they had little success. I was initially concerned that the disturbance to the water and wind could cost us first place. In the end, I was enjoying the chaotic atmosphere and celebration that Sweden put on for all of the Volvo fleet.
To win the last leg or the last race of any event is a great way to go out. You leave on such a high.no regrets. Let's be honest.we were lucky. The kids on ABN2 had a 15 miles lead in the race with 15 miles to go. They parked there in the early morning and we came with the new wind. We sailed right up to them and when they finally got going, we were even. It was a dog fight for about 8 miles to the last turning mark of the course; gybing in 3 knots of wind with one knot of current against us. In the end, we turned the mark 1 boat length ahead, and that was all she wrote. We stretched from there because our boat is a better light air machine.
The end of this great adventure has come. In looking back over the 13 months, I would say that this campaign has been every bit as satisfying as when we won 8 years ago. Satisfaction is derived from exceeding expectations. In 1998, we put a lot of time in preparations, over a year, and we expected to do well. This time, we sailed the boat just 18 days before the first leg started. Third overall would have been a good result. Then we did not even sail Leg 1. In Cape Town we were in LAST! Then the come back started in Melbourne. The shore team got the boat fixed and the crew gained confidence in the Pearl and we finally began to race.
The Pirates became a model of consistency; 11 podium finishes out of 16 races. Gaining second place overall in New York City was a dream for the American boat. Timing is everything. The Big Chief, Bob Iger came and sailed the Pearl in New York harbor. Bob has become one of our biggest fans and as he did, so did many others at Disney and Buena Vista. It was very satisfying to see this global company, who had little knowledge of our sport, get hooked.
Pirates of the Caribbean storm to victory in the final leg of the Volvo Ocean Race 2005/2006 ©Oskar Kihlborg
13 months ago, when I met with Donald Evan and Grant Palin in Burbank, I could envision the boat and team as it looked at the finish in Gothenborg. I fell in love with that vision. Against all my experience and judgment, that told me we were far too late to start this campaign, I went for it. It could have been a big flop for Disney and for Paul Cayard. But it wasn't, and I am thanking my lucky stars for that. You have to acknowledge when luck comes your way and I am more than happy to do so in this case.
I did try to give us the best chance of success because I knew the mountain we had to climb was high. I surrounded myself with excellent people all the way around. They solved the technical issues, they cooked the best meals, they operated in the most efficient way, they sailed the boat to the highest professional level, in short, they exceeded what I could have asked of them. My hat is off to each and every Pirate. You guys are the best!
So it is with satisfaction, pride and a touch of sadness, that we close this great adventure. Appropriately, it was the best ride of my life.
I am taking a break for a few weeks here in Sweden with my family. This summer I will sail two Transpac 52 regattas on George Andreadis' boat Atalanti with Russell Coutts and the team. I will sail with my kids in California and Oregon, in their boats this summer. I will sail in Sardinia with Leonardo Ferragamo on his Swan in September. I will sail my Star in the World Championship in San Francisco at the end of September. I will keep CayardSailing.com updated with reports from these races.
Thanks for following us and being a part of this great adventure. Remember, the richest people on the planet are the one with the best experiences!
Captain Paul Cayard
Pirates of the Caribbean