Cayard steps aboard
The weeks of speculation are over! Following his departure from Larry Ellison's Oracle Racing America's Cup campaign, Paul Cayard is to join Grant Dalton and Amer Sports One for the next leg of the Volvo Ocean Race, Nautor Challenges announced in Auckland today.
Four years ago the Californian skipper upped the game in the Whitbread Round the World Race when he proved that applying the skill and discipline of an America's Cup campaign to a Whitbread project was what it took to win. His EF Language demolished the opposition, winning with a leg to spare.
On Amer Sports One Cayard is to replace Dee Smith, who is getting off in order to return to the States to receive surgery on his right shoulder. However had Cayard not been available Smith would have stayed on board for leg four. "Dee has been doing a great job, but has had trouble with his shoulder for several months. It's painful and restricts his movement and, sooner or later, he would need surgery," commented Dalton. "The fact that Paul is available for leg four allows Dee to get it over with now."
"Dee left New Zealand on Sunday nigh and had the surgery on Tuesday," Dalton continued. "He will return to New Zealand, and the team, next weekend. The medical advice is that he will require five or six weeks of rehabilitation and is expected to be fit for leg five."
How Cayard will fit into the afterguard of Amer Sports One, with Grant Dalton and navigator Roger Nilson will be interesting to see. While Dalton and Nilson are the most experienced round the world racers in this fleet, Cayard will bring shrewd tactical cunning. In this respect he is certainly a match for illbruck's John Kostecki, who sailed on Cayard's America One America's Cup campaign three years ago.
"Paul will take over Dee's tactical role working with navigator Roger Nilson and he will also have a role on deck," said Dalton of his new star appointment., who it seems will only be on board for the next leg round Cape Horn to Brazil. "Dee offered to have the operation after the race, doing it now will allow him to get stronger through to the finish."
It is believed that at one point Kostecki was in contact with his old skipper, looking at the possibility of him joining their team. However Cayard is already on the Nautor's Swan payroll - he is a board member of the Italian-owned Finnish boatbuilder and an honorary chairman of Nautor Challenge. He had some involvement with Dalton's campaign in an advisory capacity prior to the start of the race.
The great man, who admitted to madfor sailing before Christmas that he was after a spot on the Volvo, is looking forward to the race. "Leg 4 is the best leg of the
race. It has it all - you start in pouring rain, sail through gales, 30 foot waves and ice, and finally finish in extreme heat. I am looking forward to sailing with Grant and his team and racing for Nautor Challenge.
Dalton summed up: "I chased Paul around the world four years ago and I would rather have him sailing with me than against me."
Paul Cayard will not only bring a breath of fresh air to Nautor's campaign, but to the Volvo Ocean Race as a whole. Four years ago aside from his amazing performance on the water Cayard's emails were required reading and he was head and shoulders above the competition in media terms.