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Volvo Ocean Race: PUMA’S mar mostro holds off GROUPAMA 4 to finish third

26/12/2011
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Ken Read and his men on board PUMA’s Mar Mostro took third place in the first stage of Leg 2 from Cape Town to Abu Dhabi on Monday, holding off one-time leg leaders Groupama 4 for the 16 points.

PUMA Ocean Racing powered by BERG crossed the finish at 2333:10 UTC, more than five hours behind Team Telefónica (Iker Martínez/ESP) who snatched his second leg win earlier today from CAMPER with Emirates Team New Zealand (Chris Nicholson/AUS).

It has been a difficult leg for the crew of PUMA’s Mar Mostro who were forced to retire from Leg 1 due to dismasting in the South Atlantic Ocean. “We have all had our moments, but the chemistry of the crew has never been better,” said skipper Ken Read.

The tough time began for the crew of Mar Mostro on day five, when the fleet was in the grips of a menacing trough separating two belts of low-pressure. At the time, Read described the conditions as some of the most frustrating and mentally exhausting of his sailing career.

Although the team was briefly in and out of the top three, enjoying a battle with Telefónica for first place in trade wind sailing on day nine, and again on day 11 with Groupama 4, it was Read’s decision to take the westerly side of the Doldrums for which he ultimately paid a high price.

The team made the call to go east, a move that both Telefónica and CAMPER had made earlier with great success, but it was a late and expensive decision. On day 12, December 21, the black cat was barely making five knots and had dropped from second place to fourth, over 78 nautical miles behind Telefónica.

On day 13, Read wrote: “It’s been a long day and it is the ultimate frustration. You work you butt off to get into a really nice position and then it comes crashing down on you.” By day 14, the situation was worse still and PUMA’s Mar Mostro was 133 nm behind CAMPER who had become the new leader. By Christmas Eve, PUMA was over 150 nm behind and still losing miles. “Nobody ever said this sport was easy, but man, I don’t think it needs to be this hard,” Read said.

The fight to get back in the game started on Christmas Day, when Mar Mostro started to pull back some miles. Early on Boxing Day she had passed Groupama and the team managed to hold off the French to claim the 16 points on offer for the third podium spot tonight and retain fourth place overall.

“We went into this leg with confidence,” Read said today as he approached the finish. “It’s a bit of a shame because there were a couple of points in this leg when we did really the right thing and put ourselves in the right position, but there was really one key moment when we entered the Doldrums that didn’t work for us and that was disappointing for us for sure.”