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Volvo Ocean Race - Tactical challenge for Puma's Mar Mostro

by Amory Ross on 4 May 2012
Tony Mutter frees the tail bags of their Sargasso weed infestation. Onboard PUMA Ocean Racing powered by BERG during leg 6 of the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12 Amory Ross/Puma Ocean Racing/Volvo Ocean Race© http://www.puma.com/sailing
Volvo Ocean Race, Day 12 of Leg 6. Amory Ross, MCM for Puma Ocean Racing powered by Berg, reports on the crew's progress:

'Just pulled six flying fish out of the tailbag… anyone up for some sushi?' Tony Mutter.

Unfortunately our time of terrific trade wind sailing is coming to a close, and far too short it was. One glorious 500-mile day two days ago and a moderately-less-but-still-productive day yesterday had Mar Mostro eating up some serious miles towards the finish in Miami, but the value of these miles will be fully appreciated over the next week as we weave our way through countless zones of little to no wind between our current location and Florida’s southeast coast.

Up until now this leg has been relatively simple, full of straight-line sailing with a heavy emphasis on boat speed. Small variations in strategy have mostly focused on choosing a high road, low road, or somewhere in between. But we now face a different tactical challenge and the probability that positions will change grows with each diverging manoeuvre.

We’ve just thrown in our first two gybes in what seems like weeks, and already we wonder if Camper or Telefónica will be following our lead. If they don’t, that new leverage created from us going opposite directions opens the door for many things… some good and some not. But in these latter stages where our routing software can’t agree on much, and where the forecasts are changing so rapidly, indecisiveness, second-guessing, and varied opinions are going to be in abundance. That’s just going to be part of life, and Tom’s job in deciphering the multiple weather systems is only going to get harder.

We’ve sailed an excellent leg so far – led for just about all of it – and the scary notion that the remaining miles could become more 'roll of the dice' than anything else is one we’re trying not to accept; luck and good fortune haven’t exactly been on our side so far this race! So we’ll keep the boat moving fast(ish), and aim to balance conservative fleet tactics with confident racecourse management – all the way to the end.

Puma Ocean Racing Volvo Ocean Race website

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