With just a few short (and busy) weeks left until their new VO70 is rolled out of the shed, the PUMA Ocean Racing team is headed down to St. Barth's for their final training event onboard Rambler100.
The team will be sailing in the second annual edition of the Les Voiles de St. Barth's. As with all events this past winter, both onboard Rambler100 and Hanuman, the Les Voiles will serve a dual purpose. Because, as Ken Read mentioned, "these two boats are so radically different, you take a little bit from each experience. While Hanuman is a 137 foot replica J- Class yacht that averages about 10.5 knots, Rambler100 is always on the edge, potentially the fastest monohull ever designed." Both boats have been valuable in PUMA's Volvo Ocean Race preparation, giving the crew a chance not only to sail together, but to also to become a team.
With the event beginning on Monday, the crew was looking forward to a Rambler100-Leopard match up of the fastest 100 footers afloat. Unfortunately, Leopard has pulled out of the event. This will mean that the team will have to change their mindset and concentrate on the handicap rating system of the boats and compete against the clock in order to save their corrected time against smaller boats in their class. Not the best case scenario, but it will give the PUMA team a chance to work on their inshore sailing skills none the less.
For those who have not been sailing with the team at these events, the one question kicking around is, How does sailing Rambler100 relate back to PUMA's new VO70? "In baseball, when batters are on-deck, they put a small lead weight called a “donut” on their bat for their practice swings," said Kenny. "When the batter then steps up to the plate, donut removed, the boat seems lighter and their bat speed increases. Sailing Rambler100 is much like using that donut. When our team gets back on the Volvo 70 to sail, the "weight" has been removed and our 70 foot race boat seems like a dinghy." If you're wondering where the baseball analogy comes from, Kenny is a big baseball fan. So much so that during the Boston stopover in the 2008-09 edition of the Volvo, Kenny threw out the first pitch at a Boston Red Sox baseball game.
Here at PUMA, we are big believers that success breeds success, and with a successful training season under their belt, PUMA is moving forward with a winning mentality. "It's nice to come off a season where the team has proven they can be successful in whatever type of racing we do," said Kenny. "As a team, this past winter has built our confidence and now, every time we suit up, we're in the mind set that we have the ability to post good results. It's a good feeling."