Saturday, 6 June 2009

VOR: PUMA preparing for tricky leg eight to Sweden

Shannon Flacone training on board il mostro off Galway. Image copyright Sally Collison/PUMA Ocean Racing.

by Kate Fairclough

The PUMA Ocean Racing team will begin the shortest leg of the Volvo Ocean Race 2008-09 to date this Saturday, June 6. The start of leg eight will take place just off Mutton Island in Galway Bay at 15:00 local (14:00 GMT/10:00 EDT) and is expected to be watched by tens of thousands of spectators, lining the shores of Galway. Mixed and unpredictable weather conditions are anticipated for the 1,200 mile, five day sprint from Galway, Ireland to Marstrand, Sweden, which will make for extremely taxing tactical racing. With three legs and one In Port competition remaining in the Volvo Ocean Race 2008-09, a podium finish in Marstrand is vital to PUMA’s overall position in the race.

The PUMA Ocean Racing team, led by Skipper Ken Read (USA) were out on the water today preparing for a tricky leg ahead. After leaving Galway, the seven boat fleet will head southwards down the Atlantic coast of Ireland towards the well known yachting landmark Fastnet Rock, race eastwards through the English Channel and up into the North Sea, rounding the northern tip of Denmark en route to the island of Marstrand, on the west coast of Sweden. Marstrand, a popular sailing venue and summer resort on the Bohuslän coast, hosts the only ‘pitstop’ of the 37,000 mile round the world race, during which shore crews are not allowed to work on the boats. Currently lying in third place overall, it is still mathematically possible for the PUMA team to take glory in the Volvo Ocean Race.

Skipper Ken Read (USA) commented: “We’re expecting to see a little of everything in this next leg. First of all we head back out into the open water of the Atlantic Ocean, but then as we turn to go along the south coast of England, past Rotterdam in the Netherlands and up to Scandinavia, we’re really switching into coastal sailing mode, and will be for the rest of this race. Once more, much like going from offshore to in port racing; we need to be ready to change gear, as it’s again a very different style of sailing. Weather-wise, we’re expecting it to be really varied. There is some mixed weather ahead, and how you cope with that is what is going to make or break the leg. It’s going to be highly tactical, and should be pretty interesting for all you armchair spectators watching at home or on the internet.”

“Though we are now going into the last few weeks of this nine month race, there’s still so much more to come. A pitstop in Marstrand, a stopover in Stockholm and a finish in Russia, where the race has never been before – there’s still a lot of racing left on the cards, and opportunities for place changing along the way. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again; this race is not over until our shore team is taking our dock lines in St Petersburg, Russia. The PUMA team is fighting for every inch, and will be until then.”

PUMA Ocean Racing Crew List, Leg Eight, Galway - Marstrand
Ken Read (USA) Skipper
Andrew Cape (AUS) Navigator
Rick Deppe (GBR) Media Crew Member
Robert Greenhalgh (GBR) Watch Captain
Erle Williams (NZL) Watch Captain
Justin Ferris (NZL) Trimmer/Driver
Rob Salthouse (NZL) Trimmer/Driver
Craig Satterthwaite (NZL) Trimmer/Driver
Shannon Falcone (ANT) Trimmer/Pit
Casey Smith (AUS) Bowman
Michael Müller (GER) Bowman

PUMA Ocean Racing
Volvo Ocean Race

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