The PUMA Ocean Racing powered by BERG crew returned to the podium with a third-place finish into Lisbon, Portugal, early Friday morning to complete Leg 7 of the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12. The PUMA crew made the more than 3,500 nautical mile transatlantic crossing from Miami, Florida, to Lisbon in 11 days, 6 hours, 26 minutes and 51 seconds. Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing captured their first leg win, crossing the line into Lisbon less than 6 minutes ahead of second-place Groupama Sailing Team, with PUMA 2 hours back.
“We’re very, very happy with third place. To beat two of our closest competitors, we’ll take it and run,” said skipper Ken Read. “Physically it wasn’t that hard of a leg, but mentally it was difficult. This was a battle of a race. It seemed like every time somebody would make a good move, the fleet would invert, and someone else would be on top. There were so many lead changes, and the finish was a perfect example of how hard this leg was for the entire fleet. We’ll take this, keep racking up points and keep moving forward.”
PUMA departed Miami on May 20 for the start of the shortest leg of the race to date. Traveling up the Atlantic coastline and battling the Gulf Stream, the crew encountered the outskirts of Tropical Storm Alberto in the move east. The journey took them to the northern Atlantic Ocean toward the ice gate, before beginning the press to Lisbon. PUMA’s Mar Mostro crossed the line in Lisbon at 23:26:22 UTC/00:26:22 local.
“It was a tricky race, full of transitions which were very hard for lead boats to deal with,” said navigator Tom Addis. “Nobody could every really get ahead and stay ahead, and the fleet could never relax into a rhythm. There were always opportunities for the boats behind to catch up. In a race like this, especially with a park-up so close to the finish, you’re happy with any podium position.”
With the third-place finish in the leg, PUMA now moves into third place in the overall standings with 171 total points. Groupama took over the top slot with 183 points, while Team Telefónica dropped to second at 181, leaving 12 points separating the top three boats. The entire fleet finished the leg within 5 hours of each other.
Leg 7 marked the second transatlantic crossing for PUMA’s Mar Mostro. The team first departed U.S. waters on July 3, 2011, with the start of the Transatlantic Race 2011 from Newport, Rhode Island, to Lizard Point, Cornwall, U.K. Their first trip across the Atlantic Ocean was successful as they notched wins in both IRC Class 1 and IRC Overall of the race.
The original PUMA crew was back in tact for the first time since Leg 4. Casey Smith (Brisbane, Australia), who missed Leg 6 due to a lower back injury, returned for Leg 7.
Photo: Ian Roman/Volvo Ocean Race