The PUMA Ocean Racing powered by BERG crew was bashed around by the Southern Ocean and held off two challengers in a tactical match race to win Leg 5 of the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12, sailing from Auckland, New Zealand, to Itajaí, Brazil. The 11-member crew onboard PUMA’s Mar Mostro crossed the line at 16:09.51 local/19:09.51 UTC on Friday, April 6, finishing the leg in 19 days, 18 hours, 9 minutes and 50 seconds. It marked the first leg win of this year’s race for the PUMA team.
“Unbelievable!” said skipper Ken Read after arrival. “Nobody quit and the atmosphere on the boat today was really cool – laid back and everybody was ready to tackle the task at hand. I’m very proud of this team. It’s a great feeling.
“The shore team – along with the boat builders and design team – they’re the unsung heroes here. They deserve equal billing, especially in a leg like this,” Read continued. “Before the leg started, we had a goal and a strategy as to how we were going to approach it and what our priorities were. We stayed true to that, and I’m very proud of that fact. And, my heart goes out to all of the teams with problems this leg – we know exactly how they feel.”
With the win, PUMA added 30 points to bring the team’s overall race total to 113. Team Telefónica crossed the line a close second to PUMA in Leg 5, finishing just 12 minutes behind and boosting their overall race total to 147. Two teams remain poised to complete the leg after suffering damage during the leg – the Groupama Sailing Team and CAMPER with Emirates Team New Zealand. The Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing and Team Sanya both retired from the leg after also suffering damage.
The team traveled approximately 7,500 nautical miles from Auckland to Itajaí. Following the relentless Southern Ocean stretch of more than 12 days, PUMA rounded Cape Horn at 13:52 UTC on March 30. With most of the fleet suspended from racing due to damage, PUMA and Groupama began the northerly journey to Brazil in a match race, sailing head-to-head until Groupama suffered an unfortunate dismasting. Telefónica soon resumed racing and caught up to within a mile of PUMA by the final day.
“The leg went on and on,” described navigator Tom Addis. “It was an all-around leg. There was the Southern Ocean, which of course is full-on preservation mode. Then, once you round the corner there was a lot of tactical racing, a lot of light air. We’ve got great experience on this boat – guys like Brad [Jackson] and Tony [Mutter] just knowing when to push and when not to push. Sometimes you’re not racing at anywhere near 100 percent, but that’s fine because you’re not very fast when you’re broken. It was a good leg to win.”
Racing resumes in Itajaí with the Pro Am Race on Friday, April 20, followed by the In-Port Race on Saturday, April 21, and the start of Leg 6 to the lone U.S. stop of Miami, Florida, on Sunday, April 22.