Off To Auckland In The Morning

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PUMA’S Mar Mostro finishes first stage of Leg 4. 

PUMA Ocean Racing powered by BERG completed the first stage of Leg 4 of the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12 from Sanya, China, to Auckland, New Zealand, on Sunday, Feb. 19. PUMA finished with a time of 4:39.17 as the final team to cross the line on the 43.2 nautical mile “Buddha course.” Racing will resume at 07:00 local/23:00 UTC tomorrow when Team Telefónica, the leaders into Sanya, starts the second stage, and PUMA’s Mar Mostro departs at 07:39.17 local/23:39.17 UTC.

“After rounding the Buddha mark and heading back towards Sanya, with two thirds of the race completed, we had approximately a mile and a half lead,” said skipper Ken Read. “To be honest, up until then we sailed fantastically - Kelvin did a nice job on both beats inshore, like yesterday. We saw a breeze transition line happening in front of us, we were totally prepared, then hit a hole, changed sails and literally sat there for an hour and a half while the entire fleet sailed around us. We knew there was a transition, but it turned into a vacuum. It’s hard enough in this fleet, now everyone has about a 35-minute advantage. That’s not perfect, but we’ll deal with it. I have to admit, it’s a very frustrating way to start a leg. We’ll now regroup and we have the rest of the leg to Auckland to gain back miles.”

PUMA’s Mar Mostro won the start and quickly moved into the front as the crew sailed strong up the first windward beat. The team held the position, extending their lead at every mark around the in-port triangle to round the sixth mark in the loop 1.06 ahead of CAMPER with Emirates Team New Zealand. The fleet headed on to Mark 7 at the giant Buddha statue where PUMA had stretched their lead substantially. Shortly after rounding the mark, light winds in the transition slowed PUMA and the trailing boats literally sailed around them.

Leg 4 from Sanya to Auckland was split into two stages due to a tropical cyclone with expected 6-11 meter waves in the South China Sea. Today’s “Buddha course” marked the first stage as the fleet sailed to the Buddha statue at the Sanya Nanshan Temple and back to the Sanya start line, including the scheduled in-port triangle off the start. The fleet will now re-start on Monday with a staggered departure on the second stage of Leg 4 in the order they finished Stage 1 of the leg. The continuation of the Leg 4 journey will take the fleet approximately 5,220 nautical miles into Auckland.

PUMA sits in fourth place in the overall standings with 53 total points. Telefónica holds onto the top spot on the leaderboard with 101 points.