Fathers and sons don't always agree on things and that can be a problem when you're a two-handed crew pushing yourselves and your boat to the limit in a round-the-world race.

But the formula for New Zealanders Ross and Campbell Field, who won the first leg of the Global Ocean Race from Palma, Mallorca, to Cape Town recently, is a simple one. When it comes to the crunch, dad Ross is the boss.

From facing down pirates to capsizing their Class 40 yacht BSL three times, the Fields just about saw it all in the 33 days it took them to cover 7300 miles of the first leg. But they're still talking and are even looking forward to the next section - from Cape Town to Wellington.

It helps that Ross Field has a fair bit of experience. Among his best achievements in a long history of ocean racing was captaining Yamaha to victory in the Whitbread round-the-world-race in 1993-94. In 1989-90 he won the same race on Steinlager 2 alongside Sir Peter Blake.


Campbell also has an extensive list of sailing honours. He has competed in major events across the Caribbean, USA, northern Europe and the Mediterranean and completed the first leg of the 1997-98 Whitbread race aboard America's Challenge. He was also the shore manager for the Telefonica team during the 2008-09 Volvo Ocean Race.

"We complement each other very well as far as our skills are concerned,'' Ross says. "Campbell is very technical with computers, electronics, weather routing. I concentrate more on the sailing, sails and rig so it worked out very well.''

As for the dynamic of sailing around the world with your son, he said: "We did have a very big discussion about it before we decided we'd do it together. There were a few ground rules set down so it's working out very well.''

Ground rules? "Who does what job and basically who's in charge and, if push comes to shove, it's my decision as to what we're going to do. But it hasn't happened yet and I'm sure it won't arise.

"We get on very well, actually. Campbell is 41 and I'm 62 so the age gap is not huge.''

The pair, who sailed into Cape Town 14 hours ahead of second-placed Campagne de France, faced their challenges during the journey, none more so than a meeting with some dodgy characters when miles from safety.

"Probably the scariest part of the whole trip was going down the African coast when we got tied up in fishing nets and we had potential pirates chugging around the boat. We were about 50-60 miles off the coast. They were semi demanding whisky and cigarettes and things. That was probably one of the scariest moments. It was something out of our control. If they wanted to push it they could have come on board and it would have been all on.''

Another nervous moment was when BSL tipped over late in the leg. "It all flashes through your mind. We were 60 or 70 miles ahead then and we would have blown our chances. It was quite a desperate moment but luckily the boat popped back up and the rig was still there and we just charged on.''


After buying their Verdier-designed boat in Chile, the Fields prepared for the race for more than a year. It's no wonder, then, that sailing into Cape Town ahead of the rest of the field was particularly satisfying.

"This is right up there. It's special to me. One, I'm racing with my son. Secondly, I thoroughly enjoy and have been reasonably successful in two-handed and short-handed sailing and I've never won a leg into Cape Town in all the sailing that I've done.''

Campbell, who has a wife and daughter in England, will meet dad in Cape Town for the leg to Wellington which starts on November 27. Ross, who lives in Waipu Cove near Whangarei, will fly out a week before the start.

The leg through the wild southern ocean will mean more sleep deprivation and plenty of other challenges but Ross is looking forward to it.

"We're not overconfident but we're confident in the preparation we've done for this next leg. We've got a weather expert, we've re-done our sails, we're physically prepared and we have a great boat.

"Hopefully we can end up with the weather that we want and we can come home first into Wellington.''

It will only be known when the race finishes back in Palma around June next year, however, whether or not dad knows best.