Paul Todd / Volvo Ocean Race

Fourth place to Puma

Skipper Ken Read says they are pleased they bailed from their easterly option when they did

Saturday February 4th 2012, Author: James Boyd, Location: China

Puma reached Sanya in fourth place on leg three of the Volvo Ocean Race at 08:29 UTC/16:29 local UTC with an elapsed time of 13d 00h 29m 12s.

Having led for most of the opening stage across the Indian Ocean, the American Volvo Open 70 was third into Malacca Strait, position they maintained down the Strait, despite the initial reshuffle of Groupama moving up to second and Camper dropping to fourth/fifth. However the key moment for Ken Read's team on this leg came when they chose to peel off from the rest of the pack and take an easterly option crossing the South China Team as everyone else continued north to the Vietnamese coast.

Navigator Tom Addis commented: "When we took our eastern option we went into it thinking it was going tobe first or fifth and when we realised it wasn’t going well we joined the fleet and gained a place back, so I guess that is some consolation. A lot of factors go into those decisions – the weather and current and the short tacking in big breeze up the Vietnam shore which we weren’t keen on, so it all goes into the mixing port. It wasn’t that far off working. We got the shift but we were lacking pressure for about six hours but the guys got too much of a jump on us to make it stick. You make the call with all the information you have got. The key thing is realising when it is not going right and doing something about ti. So we are happy about that and got a place back."

Skipper Ken Read added: "I think our boat handling is great, our crew work is great, the effort is fantastic. My decision making – Tom and I have to get better at picking our edge. We have talked about it a lot over the last couple of days. It is live by the sword die by the sword. It [the flier to the east] was showing signs of absolutely going our way and it was an amazing rollercoaster on board – big smiles at times and then massive nervousness. I think we bailed out at the right time and go back in and get our point and get Abu Dhabi. It would have been easy to stick to our guns and hang out there but then we would have lost Abu Dhabi for sure. So in the end we figure it cost us 30 miles and 30 miles is the difference between being in the hunt with a smile on your face and coming in fourth and not very pleased about it."

Read talks of the arduousness of this predominantly upwind leg: "The lack of sleep combined with the heat is really something else. A lot of the days you are completely exhausted, but you can’t sleep because it is so hot down below. Then of course you finish the leg slamming your brains out for three days straight and throw in a million tacks and you don’t have the recipe for a nice tourist guide. That’s for sure. But coming into this leg you know exactly what you are getting yourself into."

Tom Addis admitted that there had been moment of sheer terror on this leg, particularly when they passed down Singapore Strait in breeze and in the middle of the night as they attempted to avoid ships. "That was one of the more hairy things that I have done," he said. "These boats are much more suited in open water than tacking up places like Singapore. So this had bits of everything except downwind. Lots of upwind."

According to Addis their boat is generally in good shape however they will be having to repair damage to their foils following various impacts. "There is plenty of stuff to hit out there. We hit fishing lines and logs and bits and pieces."

As to where they go from here, Ken Read said: "We have to look forward with a positive outlook. We are doing it for the competition and secondly to have fun and enjoy the trip around the world. I am not throwing in the towel by any means. We can’t feel sorry for ourselves and crawl into a corner. That is ridiculous. Let’s regroup and go into this next leg trying to win the leg. Regardless of what our result is today and nothing is going to change there I guarantee you."



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