Sunday, 2 November 2008

PUMA on course for Cape Town finish Sunday

Volvo Ocean Race Leg One finish imminent

by Kate Fairclough

The PUMA Ocean Racing team is just 347 nautical miles from the finish of Leg One of the Volvo Ocean Race and is set to reach Cape Town, South Africa tomorrow afternoon (Sunday). The 6,500 nautical mile leg has seen PUMA locked in a battle with close rival Ericsson 4, with each boat taking it in turns to lead the fleet. For the majority of the passage, the two boats have even been in sight of each other – a rare thing in offshore sailing. The battle looks set to continue, as 110 miles separate PUMA, currently in second place, from Ericsson 4 in first.

PUMA’s il mostro has enjoyed some of the closest racing in the history of the Volvo Ocean Race during this leg. Having taken three weeks to complete, starting in Alicante, Spain on October 10, the eight boat fleet has fought their way through gale force storms and white water, as well as surviving frustratingly light winds and hot temperatures as they crossed the equator. Anything could happen as the boats approach the Cape of Good Hope, and PUMA may even have the chance to pounce and narrow the gap between themselves and the leaders, who are likely to slow towards the finish. The gap between PUMA and third placed Ericsson 3 is estimated to be 12 hours.

The mood aboard PUMA is one of contemplation; with the crew taking a few moments to review the first chapter of the race and look forward to what awaits them in Cape Town. A South African steak sandwich, an ice cold beer and the chance to see loved ones are amongst their cravings.

Chris ‘Nico’ Nicholson, Watch Captain, Olympian and Volvo Ocean Race veteran, commented: “Arriving into Cape Town this race has quickly delivered a lot of variety from the doldrums to heavy air sailing. The boat has come through in great shape as well as the crew. We have really had a good learning curve this trip and will be better for it. Big congrats to the Ericsson 4 guys on an impressive 24 hour record. I know how hard it is to maintain the pressure and they did a great job. We will be better in this area next time, guaranteed. Pleasing for me was to watch the young guys, Casey (Smith/AUS) and Michi (Mueller/GER). They really had a great leg. I am happy with a return to my favourite stop in the race. See you on the dock for a steak sandwich and a quiet beer!”

Current ETA for PUMA’s arrival in Cape Town is 16:26 local (14:26 GMT) tomorrow (Sunday) afternoon.

Current Position:
2nd Place
Distance to Leader: 110 nautical miles
Distance to Leg Finish: 347 nautical miles
Miles covered in last 24 hours: 343 nautical miles

PUMA Ocean Racing

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