SAN DIEGO — With the frigid and violent Southern Ocean behind them, Ken Read and his Puma Ocean Racing crew are pointing their sloop Mar Mostro north. And they’ll be hoping for some warm, smooth sailing when the Volvo Ocean Race heads for its only stopover in the United States.
The epic bluewater race has resembled a nautical demolition derby to both boats and sailors as it’s hopscotched around the globe. Competition resumes today when the six-boat fleet leaves Itajai, Brazil, for Miami.
Read would love nothing more than to have the only American-based boat be the first to reach Florida. Puma not only won the previous leg to climb back into the race, but was the only boat not to sustain major damage on the voyage from New Zealand to Brazil.
“The last leg is behind us officially. That’s always the one that as the skipper, I guess part of you craves it and part of you fears it,” Read said by phone from Itajai. “It’s notorious to have the worst of conditions, and it lived up to the billing.”
Having run out of food a day and a half earlier, Puma won Leg 5 by just 12 minutes by holding off overall race leader Telefonica in a match race into Itajai and collected 30 vital points. It was a huge performance for Mar Mostro’s crew, which has been playing catch-up ever since the first leg, when it was left stranded in the south Atlantic Ocean after its mast shattered.
“We’re getting closer,” said Read, who skippered Puma to second place in the previous edition of the race.”We’re slowly peeking our head in through the window. There’s no doubt other teams are taking notice.”