The PUMA Ocean Racing powered by BERG team battled through light winds and a shortened course to finish second in the Iberdrola In-Port Race, the inaugural race of Volvo Ocean Race 2011-2012 on Saturday, October 29, in Alicante, Spain. PUMA collected five points in the overall standings, finishing behind Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing.
“We are thrilled with second,” said skipper Ken Read. “These are the types of days you’re trying to escape in one piece, and it was hard work. The great thing about the day was that our boat handling improved, our communication was better and we were prepared. The boys really came through today, and that certainly helped us.”
The morning rain let up and the skies cleared in time for race start. PUMA’s Mar Mostro and crew quickly made their way down the first leg, rounding the first mark in third position. Shortly after passing the second mark, they moved ahead of CAMPER to take the second position behind Abu Dhabi. Although the breeze died, forcing the race course to get shortened, PUMA held on to second place through the third gate and across the finish line. CAMPER finished third, followed by Team Sanya in fourth, the Groupama sailing team in fifth and Team Telefónica in sixth.
“We got off to a good start,” said tactician Kelvin Harrap. “At the first turning mark, we had the opportunity to turn inside Abu Dhabi, but we took the conservative option and went behind them. At the bottom mark we went past CAMPER. Then, the rest of the race was just a matter of staying in the breeze – it was so variable. We sailed well today.”
Three special guests joined the team onboard to witness the action first hand: PUMA CEO Franz Koch, BERG CEO Håkan Svensson and HRH Prince Carl Philip of Sweden.
“It was truly awesome to be out there with the boys,” said Koch. “I was sitting in the back with Prince Carl Philip and we had a good time, chatted a lot and talked about the strategy for the race. It was wonderful to see the team in action and a great experience. I think we’re well positioned, and I look forward to following the team throughout the race.”
The In-Port Race marked the first opportunity for teams to score points towards the overall standings in the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-2012. With five points, the team heads into the start of Leg 1 next week in second place on the leaderboard.
On Sunday, the Pro Am Race will begin at 10:00 UTC (12:00) local with the first of three races. Guests onboard each race will participate in sailing PUMA’s Mar Mostro around the race course. Koch and Svensson will once again join the PUMA crew for the Pro Am, and this race they’ll get a bigger piece of the action.
In-Port and Pro Am races will be held at all 10 port stopovers. The first leg of this year’s Volvo Ocean Race gets underway on Saturday, November 5, and the fleet will travel 39,000 nautical miles, finishing in Galway, Ireland, in July 2012.