by Rich Wilson, Skipper, Great American III

Rich Wilson

Prior to the start of the Vendée Globe race, there were hundreds of decisions made: which boat to use, which qualifying race to sail, what to refit on the boat, what equipment to install, which vendors to use, etc. The notes on which our decisions were made fill a dozen thick 3-ring binders.

At-sea decisions include what route to take, what sails to set, how fast to go, what repairs to make, and much more. These decisions are made based on our own experience at sea, logic, input from experts where our own expertise is limited, and by doing research. Once we collect all possible information, there is a discussion within the group by email or phone, and I make the final choice.

A big challenge for me has been the tradeoff between speed and risk. To sail faster risks breaking things, but it also gets me across the finish line sooner. Events like climbing the mast to carry out a repair hold their own set of risks: I could get hurt, or, if I decide not perform the repair, something might break. Sometimes I review my logic for hours. In the end I may turn to my gut feeling, which is really a measure of my confidence one way or the other.

Hopefully, we can make enough correct decisions from here on to get us safely to the finish.