Obviously the sample size is very small but is it just a coincidence that the two women will finish in the top six places with only 11 (likely) finishers out of thirty starters? Might the women (and many of the men who will finish) have sailed a bit more carefully to keep their boats together while giving up pushing hard enough to compete for a win?
I wonder what strategy I would have if entered in such a race? Obviously you have to finish to win but to finish you have to keep the boat in one piece and that may mean backing off the accelerator when the wind really picks up and you are surfing at 30 knots.
I think you make a great point Killarney. Actually, in her post-race interviews she's talked about being more conservative (though that's an extremely relative term in this case) - and it definitely paid off. It is a freakin' LOOOOOONNNGGGG race after all.
First off Sam had a 10yo boat that has actually won the race at least once in the past I think; however it was hugely underpowered compared to some of the others in there this yr. She had five or six feet less stick which translated to 20 to 60 square feet less sail area, and Roxy literally weighed a ton more than some of the other boats in the race. She is very lucky to have finished as high as she did. Look at all of the setbacks that Marc Guillemot had and he still beat her.
They truth is she was in an old shoe compared to some of the other boats out there.
So in the end you get a tortoise and hare comparison, and the hares took all 3 podium spots, and First and Second finished about a week ahead of third.
As for the retirements, hitting containers, whales, and getting your leg broken are really not in the plan, losing your rig trying to help someone who lost his keel to an impact is not really a systems failure either. Look at some of the early retirements and you see some electrical system problems, how the hell do you have electrical systems problems. I don't get that part, you'd think they would have shaken all of the bugs out in testing the multi million dollar once every 4 yrs effort before the race started.
They are race boats, that have to go over 90 days w/o support AND they have to make it around the conditions in the southern ocean, not to mention that the race was started in a full gale, making these boats that are really designed to run down wind beat in 45kts and nasty seas.
I've been following it the whole way and it is pretty incredible, and please don't construe my post above to take anything away from Sam. I was really pulling for her to get 3rd. Marc was an incredible story to get 3rd. He sailed the last 1000 miles in what was effectively a 60 ft. Lazer.
Those boats take a pounding in seas that would scare most of us to death. Racing in the southern ocean alone, a thousand miles from land, in 45kts+ and 10m+ seas is not for the faint hearted.