Tuesday, 19 May 2009

VOR: PUMA LEG SEVEN DAY 2 QFB: received 17.05.09 2006 GMT

by Kenny Read (skipper)

How do you start a note like this when you feel like you have to thank a million people? The Boston stopover was none other than a dream come true for me. The Volvo Ocean Race coming to Boston, and the entire region responding with such amazing enthusiasm that it is hard to even describe.

I am sure others have chronicled the day to day activities so I will spare you the gory details, but I have to tell you about the start.

After the traditional send off parade we set out into the harbour with a couple interested observers. il mostro's godmother Salma Hayek and her husband, Francois-Henri Pinault. They snuck down to the boat and got aboard with as little fanfare as they could get away with. After getting the sails up, Salma took the wheel and told me that she had learned to sail at a young age but with a tiller. The steering wheel came naturally but she was a bit timid within about a 1/4 mile of any other boat - which wasn't easy because the inner harbour was quickly filling up with spectators.

As we got our game faces on and had to begin to prepare for the start, we said our goodbyes and off they went into our RIB. Time to get ready! Let’s see...a channel about 3/4 of a mile wide, hundreds of spectator boats, a starting line 300 yards long with one end being Fan Pier with thousands of screaming fans hanging out, and a 1.5 mile windward leeward course with seven 70 foot boats all cramming for position. Hmmmm...what could go wrong?

After a split start which saw half of us on port and the other half on starboard, we crossed the middle of the channel in third. One small problem, a fog bank rolling in which was just what we needed - another obstacle. We were preparing to round the weather mark and all of a sudden out of the fog, right over the top of the mast a 737 airliner roared out of the fog with no warning whatsoever, landing on the runway of Logan Airport just to our left, scaring the ‘you know what’ out of us! I remember thinking at the time, what else could happen here? This is unreal...

A long one tack run back through the starting line and a quick dive inside Green Dragon at the leeward mark to get buoy room and we were off. We were third out of the harbour with a ton of old friends, new friends and family all waving goodbye. It was very sad, but thrilling all at the same time - simply amazing.

When we started this campaign and Boston was considered one of the stopover ports, there were four of us in a small office right on the harbour wondering what the next step would be. Tony (Antonio) Bertone has always been the cornerstone of this programme as PUMA's chief marketing guru. None of this would have happened without his support, but I believe at that meeting one of the people in the room mentioned a guy named Joe Fallon. He owned a little piece of property called Fan Pier. "That place could be perfect" it was concluded. Well Joe, you had no idea at the time that your name was being bantered about for a project like this and from all of us involved in the Volvo Race and sailing in North America, we owe you one big time.

Volvo Ocean Race

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