Sunday, 12 April 2009

VOR: PUMA says Farewell Rio, we're Homeward Bound

Close-quarters racing around the committee boat as the fleet begins Leg 6 to Boston. Image copyright Rick Tomlinson/Volvo Ocean Race.

by Kate Fairclough

PUMA started leg six of the Volvo Ocean Race 2008-09 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil at 1500 local today, after saying an emotional farewell to the city of Rio. Waved off the dock by family, friends, supporters and samba dancers, the PUMA Ocean Racing team raced a short course round Guanabara Bay in light winds before passing beneath Sugar Loaf Mountain. Rounding a mark off Copacabana Beach under the gaze of Christ the Redeemer, Rio’s most famous landmark, the fleet headed east out into open water. Leg six takes the Volvo Ocean Race from Brazil 4,900 nautical miles northwards up to Boston, USA, the unofficial home of PUMA Ocean Racing. Currently lying in second place overall, PUMA is on the hunt for valuable points at this halfway stage in the race.

The leg ahead is expected to take around 16 days, during which the fleet will cross the equator for the fourth and final time in the 37,000 mile round-the-world race. A tricky first few days of racing are expected as the fleet battles with strong currents off the coast of Brazil, before meeting the trade winds of the South Atlantic. The hot weather of the doldrums will shortly be followed by faster sailing in the northern hemisphere, as the boats reach the cooler climes of springtime in the North Atlantic. After avoiding a whale conservation area off the coast of Massachusetts, the fleet will head in to Boston, to what is set to be a huge PUMA welcome.

Skipper Ken Read (USA) commented: “We’ve loved our time here in Rio. We’ve met loads of great people and loved the hospitality we’ve been shown here. The PUMA team have been staying down on the beach in Copacabana, and it’s great to have been able to work out on the beach in the mornings, just looking around thinking ‘it doesn’t really get much more beautiful than this’. Thank you Rio.”

“It’s good to be going home to Boston. Our PUMA Ocean Racing team programme was announced in Boston, our boat il mostro was christened in Boston, and PUMA has a head office in Boston, so it’s like home to us. Family, friends, supporters, sponsors are all going to be waiting there on the dock, ready to see their boys, and their boat. It’s going to be really good, I’m really looking forward to it. With it however comes the added pressure of everybody saying ‘remember you’ve gotta win this, this is the one you have to win’. It’s a pressure I think I’ve felt within the team this week, and we’re trying to downplay it. It’s just another leg, we have to treat it like another leg. We have to try to stay consistent, and keep doing what we’re doing. It’s really good to be going home and when we get there, we’ll have done a complete circumnavigation of the globe, as we sailed from the States to Alicante for the start of the race last October.”

“Telefonica Blue and Ericsson 4 are our two closest rivals, for sure you always have your eye out on those two guys, and Ericsson 3 has shown they have some speed to burn. Of course the two boats jumping back into the race Telefonica Black and Delta Lloyd have a new inventory of sails and have been practising for three weeks as they didn’t do the last leg. This will be an interesting leg. There will definitely be a few roadblocks out there weather wise, current wise, the Gulf Stream, the Brazilian current, a couple of big highs; there are plenty of roadblocks. As always, no doubt we’ll all be within about ten feet of each other, the whole way up, driving each other nuts!!”

PUMA Ocean Racing
Volvo Ocean Race

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