by Kate Fairclough
At 14.00 (local) today, the PUMA Ocean Racing team stormed across the start line of the first leg of the Volvo Ocean Race 2008-09. In winds of over 25 knots and stormy seas off the coast of Alicante, Spain, skipper Ken Read and his team aboard PUMA’s il mostro sped round the first two marks of the course before heading off over the horizon en route to Cape Town, South Africa, in second place. Thousands of spectators lined the sea wall in Alicante to watch as these incredible boats began their long journey 37,000 miles round the world.
Having waved an emotional goodbye to family and friends on the dock this morning, the eleven crew on board il mostro - ten sailors and one media crew member, who will document life onboard as the race unfolds - prepared themselves for a 6,500 mile leg to Cape Town. Expected to take around 23 days, the fleet will sail westwards out of the Mediterranean Sea, and then down through the Atlantic Ocean to Cape Town, crossing the Equator as they go.
After a great start, the PUMA Ocean Racing team aboard il mostro had a gruelling first few hours, rounding the first mark of the course in Alicante Bay in second place behind Swedish boat Ericsson 4 and storming back down towards the second mark. Impressing the crowd with visually stunning huge bright red sails, Ken Read and his team treated the spectator boats to a fine display of boat handling as they sped off at speeds of up to 24 knots.
PUMA Ocean Racing skipper Ken Read commented on the dock this morning: “Today is very special for us, it’s the end of two years of incredible preparation and hard work to bring us to where we are right now. It’s not the perfect Spanish weather we expected for the start of the race, but it’s time for us to get out of here.
I can’t say enough about this whole team, everyone involved in the PUMA Ocean Racing team as well as all the folks at PUMA, they have been magic to work with. I hope we can put on a good show out there. We just need to get through the night, and then we’ll have a nice ride down to Cape Town. We’re looking forward to seeing you there.”
The Volvo Ocean Race is made up of ten legs, finishing in June 2009 in St. Petersburg, Russia. The fleet is expected to finish the first leg of the race, in Cape Town, around 3rd November.
PUMA Ocean Racing