Tuesday, 16 June 2009

VOR: PUMA - Kenny's new Buddy

Skipper Ken Read gets a good luck hug from his new friend, the PUMA cat. Image copyright Rick Tomlinson/Volvo Ocean Race.

by Rick Deppe

14 Jun 2009 12:41 AM PDT

After a very brief pit stop in Marstrand, it is time to pack up and sail the short sprint to Stockholm. It's 9:30 right now at the race village and the sailors are slowly starting to make their way down the boats.

1200 GMT: I’m writing this in the few hours we have between leaving the dock and the start, it is always nerve wracking. Once again on the dock today, and even now, a few hours later, I have a knot in my stomach. On some legs you think about the danger that waits out to sea. I’m speaking of course about the leg to China where we knew the fleet was headed toward some very dangerous sailing in the Taiwan Straits. Other times you will be thinking about the enormous task ahead of you – the 40 day epic that was Leg Five seemed daunting the morning of the re-start in China. This time it is nerve wracking for another reason...

It’s hard to believe that we have only about four or five days of sailing left in the race. The end sort of snuck up on us pretty fast. I'm happy about that and a bit sad too because it's been an amazing ride. However, as we keep reminding ourselves, this is far from a cruise to the finish as we probably face our greatest challenge of the entire race in the next few hours and days. Everyone is talking about the showdown between PUMA and Tele-Blue. It’s a battle for second place as E4 seem un-catchable for first place. So there are some tough calls ahead for Kenny, Capey and the lads. The leg from Marstrand to Stockholm would be really tricky to begin with, never mind having to go into a match race with another boat. The team here on board il mostro are very aware of the danger of getting sucked into this sort of thinking, and know that Tele-Blue will be a formidable opponent in all conditions. In recent weeks the conventional wisdom that Tele-Blue are fast in light winds and il mostro is fast in heavy air seems to have gone out the window as both teams have raised their game to match the other. Now that we have left the dock I can tell you that in actual fact, more than anything, the team on il mostro would REALLY REALLY like to win a leg! And that’s the truth!!!

We realize that the first thing out the window in an offshore race is often the plan. Early indications are that a fair proportion of this race will be a drag race and then a pretty strong possibility of some tricky conditions at the end as we approach the finish in Sandham.

There was a nice little send off in Marstrand, following a fantastic pit-stop style stopover. It was nice having the boat to ourselves for a few days tied to the dock although we were lucky that there was very little work to do on the boat. The team will be happy to hand the boat back to the shore crew in Stockholm for the final 100% going over before the Stockholm in-port and last leg to Russia.

I think someone in Marstrand got the memo about the crowds in Galway because this morning race fans were flooding into town. The Swedes are passionate about this race and sailing in general. They certainly gave us a rousing send off. The arrival in Stockholm will be huge also.

1443 GMT: The excitement of the start was overshadowed by the Tele-Blue grounding. Better writers than me are on station recording the aftermath. What I can say is that at the time they hit I was watching them about 100 meters behind as we followed them around a headland. When they hit what I saw made me feel sick to my stomach. All of us on il mostro are praying that no-one was hurt and that the boat is okay.

PUMA is leading the race right now and the fleet is lined up behind us with all boats headed south at a good pace towards Copenhagen. The boat is really rumbling, we have the A-Zero up and one tuck in the main. This is a good angle for us.

A slight worry is that Erle (Erle Williams) seems to have come down with some type of cold or fever. It developed rapidly after leaving the dock. Shannon is administering drugs and monitoring his status.

PUMA Ocean Racing
Volvo Ocean Race

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