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Pete Goss replies to Mike Calvin

by on 6 Nov 2000
* It's not every day that you wake up to find your project on a platter with your head in its mouth, all coated in a rich and emotive glaze laced with words such as cursed, madness, obsession and risk to life. As with most things in life it's all about perception.

Mine happens to differ with Mike Calvin's, a Mail on Sunday journalist who so publicly resigned from my crew in an article in his newspaper last weekend. Friends and supporters treat it as if there has been a death in the family and ask in hushed tones if I'm ok. Granted his article and the headline, in which Calvin doubted the safety of Team Philips, had scant regard for its consequences to those that he has left behind. However, that is perhaps the line one crosses when stepping from participant to observer.

I knew his resignation was coming for some time and chose to give Calvin the freedom and time to wrestle with his demons. It is always hard to face up to one's personal truths. Many drift through life without doing so and the truism that "it takes a big man to say no" is one that has always had my deepest respect.

Team Philips has always been an emotive project, challenging the norm will always be controversial. That I accept, even welcome. For it can do no harm to promote thought and search for answers provided one has clear guidelines and principles to work within. In our case it has always been safety and will remain so.

It's down to Team Philips now, she has had her pound of flesh and it's up to her to do the talking. It's an opportunity that she deserves as I don't believe in gagging potential, people or speculation. You don't know until you try and we've just got to the point where it's all coming together.

My position is not unusual. Every skipper from a frigate to a day boat carries the same weight. Theirs is "the sole and inescapable responsibility for the safety of the vessel and all within it". They also have the authority to say no. That decision can only be based on fact, not fiction (to date we have not had our lives at risk) and requires hard evidence before those who have the knowledge and experience can make a judgment.

* In a sense Mike and I are both right and have the courage to stand by our convictions. In my case, this is not with blind regard for the consequences. I knew that we had set ourselves a huge challenge at the very coalface of innovation and technology. In this arena, the word persistence holds more gravitas than obsession.

We have done a complete audit of the boat and feel that most of the pain has now been suffered. Future issues will be able to be resolved by the crew on board rather than having to go all the way back to Totnes.

We now have a rolling programme reviewed on a daily basis against a clear goal that has been in place for the last five years, to do The Race. That Mike found it impossible to participate under that environment is sad but understandable. But for the sake of a little patience he is destined to watch while we carry on with the banner that we are so proud and privileged to hold. Whatever the outcome we can hand on heart say to ourselves that we truly did our best.

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