The PUMA Ocean Racing powered by BERG crew pushed through days of upwind sailing and a tight battle at the end to finish second in Leg 4 of the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12. PUMA crossed the line at 11:55.43 local/22:55.43 UTC in Auckland, New Zealand, completing the leg from Sanya, China, in 20 days, 3 hours, 57 minutes and 50 seconds to collect 25 points.
“We had to fight for this second-place finish, and we’re very pleased,” said skipper Ken Read. “It was a combination of boat speed, the ability of the boat to handle the conditions, and of course the guys on board. It was a long, miserable leg, but the last 72 hours were the best we’ve sailed the boat. This finish is definitely something for us to build upon.”
The Groupama Sailing Team won Leg 4 with Team Telefónica edging out CAMPER with Emirates Team New Zealand for third. Telefónica holds the overall lead in the race with 121 points, while the PUMA crew remains fourth with 78 points.
The journey from Sanya to Auckland took the team 5,220 nautical miles, and the leg was split into two stages due to a tropical cyclone in the South China Sea. Despite a strong start in the first stage, PUMA was the final boat to complete the stage, forcing a 39 min, 17 sec delayed restart. Gradually making up ground over the first few days of the second phase, the crew continued upwind sailing, heading further north to get on a more eastern route down to Auckland. They joined half the fleet in rounding the eastern end of the Solomon Islands, then held off challengers in Telefónica and CAMPER down the New Zealand coastline to cross the line in second.
“This leg went on and on and on,” said watch captain Brad Jackson, who was at the helm across the line into his hometown of Auckland. “We've been in some bad places and some good places, and back and forth. It's been really tough physically and mentally, and it was a tough tactical leg, but we stuck to our guns and we got there in the end. Groupama sailed a great leg, so they really deserve the win. And, for us to get second was a very good result.”
Racing resumes in Auckland with the Pro Am Race on Friday, March 16, followed by the In-Port Race on Saturday, March 17, and the start of Leg 5 to Itajai, Brazil, on Sunday, March 18.
photo: Mark Bow/Volvo Ocean Race