On Monday, March 19, the PUMA Ocean Racing powered by BERG crew suffered two injuries during Leg 5 of the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12. Bowman Casey Smith (Brisbane, Australia) injured his lower back and helmsman Thomas Johanson (Espoo, Finland) dislocated his right shoulder. Both crewmembers are safe and recovering onboard as the team continues to sail from Auckland, New Zealand, to Itajaí, Brazil.
“Casey and Thomas are both improving,” said skipper Ken Read. “We’ve been communicating with our team doctors and Volvo medical staff to work through both injuries onboard, and this is why we have crew who go through intense medical training – they were able to pop Thomas’ shoulder back into place. These are rough conditions we’ve been sailing in. We’re hoping it eases soon so we can get these guys back healthy and up to full speed for the rest of the leg.”
“Casey has been battling back issues for a couple of legs now and his injury happened hours after the start, doing something he has done a million times and that is simply moving a sail,” Read described. “Thomas was hit by a large, unexpected wave when going on watch and slid through the cockpit, hitting his shoulder and upper lip on the leeward side of the cockpit. He had a helmet on at the time, which was lucky. Jono Swain did a great job getting advice then popping Thomas’ shoulder back in. Immediately he was in no pain and is recovering quickly.”
PUMA’s Mar Mostro departed Auckland on Sunday, March 18, for Leg 5. The leg is taking the fleet more than 6,500 nautical miles through the Southern Ocean and around Cape Horn with the trip to Itajaí, Brazil, expected to last around 17-18 days. Gale-force winds were recorded during the first two days, regularly blowing 30-40 knots with big seas. The final distance to finish was adjusted on Monday by Volvo Ocean Race organizers who issued new coordinates for the ice exclusion zone, moving the fleet’s path north to avoid icebergs.
Johanson joined the PUMA crew for this leg, sailing in place of helmsman Kelvin Harrap (Napier, New Zealand) who is taking a break due to carpal tunnel syndrome in both arms as well as bursitis in his elbow. Johanson sailed as a member of the Ericsson 3 crew during the 2008-09 edition of the race and won the leg through the Southern Ocean.