Monday, 6 April 2009

VOR: PUMA Second in Rio In-Port Race

Vertical aerial shot into PUMA's cockpit during the Light In-Port race in Rio. Image copyright Sally Collison/PUMA Ocean Racing.

by Kate Fairclough

The PUMA Ocean Racing team finished Saturday’s in port race in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in second place. In an incredibly close contest during which the lead changed several times, the PUMA team finished just seconds behind Telefonica Blue. Sailing in eight to 12 knots of breeze, with significant wind shifts on different sides of the course, PUMA made a number of excellent tactical calls to finish second ahead of Delta Lloyd and Ericsson 4, winning 3.5 points. PUMA has finished all four in port races to date on the podium, and today’s result in Brazil consolidates PUMA’s second place overall on the Volvo Ocean Race 2008-09 leaderboard.

PUMA's port tack start in the Light In-Port race in Rio. Image copyright Sally Collison/PUMA Ocean Racing.

The fleet heads downwind for the first time in Guanabara Bay, Rio. Image copyright Sally Collison/PUMA Ocean Racing.

Crowds of spectator craft lined Guanabara Bay to watch the seven Volvo Open 70 race boats as they tore around the tiny 1.6 mile long course. Racing was initially postponed to wait for the sea breeze to fill in, and after a well-executed start, the PUMA team led at the first mark. Prior to the racing, PUMA, along with several other teams, had their weather gurus positioned on top of Sugarloaf Mountain. From this fantastic vantage point, they could feed the sailing team detailed information about how the wind was filling in, in order to plan their tactical options for the race ahead.

Ericsson 3 chases PUMA in the In-Port race in Rio. Image copyright Sally Collison/PUMA Ocean Racing.

Skipper Ken Read (USA) commented: “Today’s race was fluky, there was a lot of current, it was a hard, hard, hard day. Rob Greenhalgh (GBR) did a really great job on tactics. He made a couple of key calls and was spot on with what he said. He had a great day.”

PUMA racing below the Statue of Christ the Redeemer on Corcovado, Rio de Janeiro. Image copyright Sally Collison/PUMA Ocean Racing.

“We pre-planned our start on port tack, different to everyone else, and our duck to the right hand side of the first beat. We were comfortable with that decision and we were first at the weather mark. Today was the type of day in which you could easily come in last. It was hard. The runs were very long because there was a lot of current going against the boats. The current was filling the breeze upwind because we were going with it and was dropping the breeze on the downwind legs, so that’s why you saw a lot of passing downwind. In the end, it took one little breeze line that Telefonica Blue had, that we didn’t, to make all the difference. We’ll take second; but one day, we won’t be the bridesmaids, we’ll be wearing the white dress!”

In race finishing order - Telefonica Blue ahead of PUMA, then Delta Lloyd and Ericsson 4. Image copyright Sally Collison/PUMA Ocean Racing.

PUMA Ocean Racing
Volvo Ocean Race

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