In the Volvo Ocean Race, Puma led the fleet out towards the Atlantic as Leg 8, the penultimate offshore stage of the race, got underway from the Portuguese capital Lisbon, bound for Lorient, France.
Ken Read’s men, second in yesterday’s Oeiras In-Port Race, nailed the downwind start in front of thousands of spectators lining the banks of the Tagus River, getting an early jump on their rivals as the six boats started the short inshore course before heading out to sea.
With boat speeds up into the mid-teens, Puma Ocean Racing powered by Berg led Camper with Emirates Team New Zealand around the first mark just past the April the 25th Bridge.
Bad starts for overall race leaders and Oeiras In-Port Race winners Groupama, second-placed Telefónica and Leg 7 winners Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing saw them playing catch-up round the short course – but clever sailing by Ian Walker’s Abu Dhabi crew saw them round the turning mark in third.
With more than 1,900 nautical miles to sail to Lorient via the Azores, there will be plenty more opportunities ahead.
Before leaving the dock, Puma skipper Read made his team’s intentions clear as they resumed their quest for overall victory.
'We’ve been second in this race before, and there’s a lot of racing still to go,' Read said. 'Groupama are not going to be feeling very secure up there -- they know there’s a lot of racing left.'
Despite their eight-point lead in the overall standings, Groupama skipper Franck Cammas said his team were solely focused on the leg in hand.
'We’re in a position to win overall, but it’s important to focus on each leg and each day and not on the overall leaderboard,' he said. 'It’s not efficient to do that -- you just have to think about each leg as if the Volvo is only one leg.'
The leg is expected to take around six days to complete, with the winning team predicted to arrive in Lorient on June 16.