Tuesday, 16 June 2009

VOR: PUMA wins leg nine of Volvo Ocean Race

PUMA wins leg 9 of the Volvo Ocean Race. Image copyright Sally Collison/PUMA Ocean Racing.

by Kate Fairclough

PUMA won leg nine of the Volvo Ocean Race at 22:43:10 local (20:43:10 GMT) this evening, achieving their first leg win of the race to date. In the most nail-biting finish ever witnessed in the Volvo Ocean Race, PUMA began an intense tacking duel with Ericsson 3 just minutes from the finish line off Sandham, Sweden with the aim of causing Ericsson 3 to either slow or make a mistake. Ericsson 3 did, PUMA overtook, and sailed to victory, crossing the finish line one minute 30 seconds ahead. Triumphant but exhausted, today’s win allows the PUMA Ocean Racing team to maintain second place overall in the Volvo Ocean Race. There is just one In Port race and one leg to go before the finish in St Petersburg, Russia on June 28.

In the shortest leg of the race to date, which took winner PUMA just 33 hours and 43 minutes to complete, the Volvo Ocean Race fleet raced from the island of Marstrand, round the coast of Sweden to a finish line just off Sandhamn, on the edge of the Stockholm archipelago. Until overtaken by Ericsson 3 just off Öland Island, PUMA had been leading the fleet for the preceding four hours of the 525 nautical mile leg. The two boats remained just boatlengths away from each other until the tacking duel ensued just outside Sandhamn, before PUMA crossed the line in first place. After finishing seven of nine legs to date on the podium, this is the PUMA Ocean Racing team’s first ever leg win.

Skipper Ken Read (USA) commented: “It feels fantastic – for us this is a great win, a hard-earned win. Man do we know how to make it hard! I don't think it has to be this hard, but somehow that's the only way we seem to have success.”

“We let them [Ericsson 3] get ahead of us at the lighthouse, in a little rain squall. They went from about half a mile behind to overtake us. We just had to battle back. I think most teams would have quit right then but our boys just kept on going. We threw a whole bunch of tacks at them, looking to force an error. Fortunately we got one when they got their jib hung up on the radar dome. We threw everything we had at them and it was just barely enough. It is unbelievable that a five hundred mile race could be decided right there in one tack, it’s amazing. It was quite a drag race for a long period of time. We’re tired. A great trip and it's a great relief to get our first leg win out of the way.”

“We’re not the bridesmaids any more! These short races are almost harder than the long races. You just don’t get any sleep at all. It feels very, very, very, very, very good. It’s a relief. It’s been frustrating always being the bridesmaid but you know what, better late than never.”

PUMA will take part in a friendly race into Stockholm city centre on Wednesday morning, arriving in Skeppsbron, Stockholm at 1400 local. The PUMA Ocean Racing team will then spend the next few days resting and preparing for the Stockholm In Port race, which takes place just off Sandhamn, Sweden on Sunday June 21.

PUMA Ocean Racing
Volvo Ocean Race

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