The PUMA Ocean Racing powered by BERG crew returned to the podium, finishing second in the Sanya Haitang Bay In-Port Race in Sanya, China. PUMA’s Mar Mostro crossed the line with a time of at 0:59.18, .41 seconds behind Team Telefónica on Saturday, Feb. 18, during the third stopover of the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12.
“We’re very pleased with our finish today,” said skipper Ken Read. “The boat felt good, the guys did a great job, and Kelvin had two good shifts in the first beat that really determined the race. A fleet like this has no slouches, so we’ll take our second and build on it.
“We didn’t have a great start, and I think that kind of sealed our fate a bit with Telefónica,” Read continued. “The two of us had a nice little battle today – it felt like a really good boat race. They gave us very little chance to get by, as you would expect from them, so I give them credit."
PUMA’s Mar Mostro made their gains on the right side of the first beat of the in-port loop and rounded the first mark .28 behind Telefónica. They closed the gap to .3 seconds at the second mark as the two began separating from the rest of the fleet. The two boats continued to battle around the course, but Telefónica held on to the narrow lead through the finish line.
PUMA added five points for second place and remains in fourth place in the overall standings with 53 total points. Telefónica holds onto the top spot on the leaderboard with 101 points.
For Leg 4 from Sanya to Auckland, New Zealand, Volvo Ocean Race organizers have announced a split of the leg into two stages due to a tropical cyclone with up to 11-meter waves in the South China Sea. The first stage gets underway on Sunday, Feb. 19, at 14:00 local/06:00 UTC with the “Buddha course” – an approximate 40 nautical mile round trip to the Buddha statue at the Sanya Nanshan Temple and back to the Sanya start line, including the scheduled in-port triangle off the start. The fleet will then wait until conditions are deemed safe enough to sail again. The delay is not expected to extend beyond 24 hours. The fleet will re-start on Monday with a staggered departure on the second stage of Leg 4 in the order they finished Stage 1 of the leg. The entire Leg 4 journey will take the fleet approximately 5,220 nautical miles into Auckland.
“They’re estimating between 6-11 meter waves in the South China Sea – that’s serious boat breaking weather,” Read said on the Leg 4 change. “With these boats, it’s the waves that can really cause problems. We all know from sailing around this part of the world in the last race that the sea state is relentless and nearly sank three boats in the fleet. Volvo has erred on the side of caution to make sure the fleet stays safe and intact.
“When the boats are in conditions like that, it’s a bit of Russian roulette,” Read continued. “You can have all of the seamanship in the world, but you fall off one wave wrong and you can do some serious damage to people or boats. The last thing we want is for someone to get seriously hurt or the fleet to shrink.
“Also, when we’re out in the open ocean and a major weather system is coming our way, we can normally sail around the edge of it. This route to New Zealand goes straight through the South China Sea around the northern tip of the Philippines, and there’s no going around this weather system, no avoiding it. I know it was a tough call for Volvo, but I think they did the right thing.”