Finally a race win for Puma

Ken Read's team claim Volvo's Galway in-port races

Saturday May 30th 2009, Author: Peter Rusch, Location: United Kingdom
Puma won the in-port race series in Galway today after two thrilling races were held on Galway Bay. This is the first time that Puma has been on top of the podium for the Volvo Ocean Race and it brings her closer to second place in the overall standings. Telefónica Blue, second today, maintains second place overall, but only by one point while Ericsson 4’s slightly disappointing performance shaves her overall lead from 14.5 points to 13 points.

In race one, Team Telefónica clearly dominated in what started out as perfect conditions, with blue skies and a building breeze. While the local heroes on Green Dragon opted for a committee boat start followed by Delta Lloyd, Athens Olympic Gold Medallist Iker Martinez quickly steered Telefónica Blue to the left of the course and into a clear lead, which he held until the finish gun. Telefónica Black, with America’s Cup helmsman and syndicate head Pedro Campos in charge, made it a one-two for the Spanish team in conditions that clearly suited the two Farr Yacht Design boats.

Puma put in a good performance to take third, from Ericsson 4, just as the wind began to die and seriously shift. A big cloudbank swept across the racecourse sucking the breeze with it and causing a headache for the race committee, who had to reposition the marks several times during the course of the first race. Ericsson 3, Delta Lloyd and Green Dragon all had their problems during the race and found themselves trailing the leaders on the procession to the finish line after the windshift.

After a short postponement, race two got underway and the clouds parted to allow the blue sky and sun to return. A new westerly breeze of around 10 knots meant a new course was set, slightly closer to the shore.

Delta Lloyd made a blinding start at the pin end of the start line and led the fleet early. Telefónica Black was OCS and had to dip back behind the line and re-start, but made quick recovery. Green Dragon tacked, dipping behind the whole fleet and headed out to the right hand of the course.

Good work from Kenny Read and his tam on board Puma meant they rounded the first mark in the lead from Telefónica Blue and Ericsson 4. The order at the front of the fleet remained unchanged at end of the first downwind leg, while, further back, Telefónica Black staged a fine recovery to overtake Delta Lloyd and Green Dragon, who was struggling in the lighter conditions.

On the second beat, Telefónica Black came right back into contention and followed Telefónica Blue through the mid course gate to the right hand side of the course. Green Dragon also chose the right hand side, nearest the beach.

The fleet converged on the windward mark for the last time with Puma leading the fleet safely round. Second place was very close with Ericsson 3 coming in from the left hand side and the two Telefónica boats approaching from the right. Ericsson 3 got the better of the two Spanish boats and rose up through the fleet from fourth place to round the mark in second, followed by Telefónica Blue, Ericsson 4 and Telefónica Black.

On the final spinnaker leg, Puma remained in control to complete the second race in first place, confirming her win today on a tiebreak, which takes the results of the second race as the decider. Ericsson 3 remained in second place and Telefónica Blue finished third in front of Telefónica Black.

Overall, it was a team affair, with Puma taking maximum points today, followed by Telefónica Blue and Telefónica Black, Ericsson 3 and Ericsson 4, Delta Lloyd and Green Dragon.

Puma skipper Ken Read commented: "“It’s about time! Our first big win has been a long time coming in this race and we’re thrilled. The chemistry onboard is terrific right now. The Puma shore crew this week put a completely bashed up boat back together in just a couple of days and this win is for those guys. Those guys were absolute studs and studettes this week.

“They weren’t exactly what we’d call ‘our conditions’ out there, but we have been steadily improving as the race has gone on and we have never lost faith. We made some changes to our sail programme for today which also clearly worked. The first race was great, you could almost say it was better than the second in a way. We didn’t have the best start, so to get back up to third was great. To get a good race out of a mistake - that’s a big deal. Second race, if you get the best start, and you go the right way...sure enough you win. We knew we needed to get some boats in between Telefonica Blue and us, which is why we put in so many tacks. Rob Greenhalgh, our tactician made some great calls and did a really nice job out there today. Every once in a while it all comes together.”

The final in-port race will be held in Stockholm, Sweden on 21 June, and leg eight from Galway to Marstrand, Sweden will start at 1300 local time (1200 GMT) next Saturday.

Race One Galway In-Port Race Finish Position
1. Telefónica Blue
2. Telefónica Black
3. Puma
4. Ericsson 4
5. Ericsson 3
6. Delta Lloyd
7. Green Dragon

Race Two Galway In-port Race Finish Position
1. Puma
2. Ericsson 3
3. Telefónica Blue
4. Telefónica Black
5. Ericsson 4
6. Delta Lloyd
7. Green Dragon

Galway In-Port Race Results (Provisional)
1. Puma: 4.0 points
2. Telefónica Blue: 3.5 points
3. Telefónica Black: 3.0 points
4. Ericsson 3: 2.5 points
5. Ericsson 4 : 2.0 points
6. Delta Lloyd: 1.5 points
7. Green Dragon: 1.0 points

Overall Leaderboard
1. Ericsson 4 (Torben Grael/BRA): 94.0 points
2. Telefónica Blue (Bouwe Bekking/NED): 81.0 points
3. Puma (Ken Read/USA): 80.0 points
4. Ericsson 3 (Magnus Olsson/SWE): 62.5 points
5. Green Dragon (Ian Walker/GBR): 53.0 points
6. Telefónica Black (Fernando Echávarri/ESP): 39.0
7. Delta Lloyd (Roberto Bermudez/ESP): 31.0 points
8. Team Russia (Andreas Hanakamp/AUT): 10.5 points

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