Puma's American skipper Ken Read enjoyed a glorious homecoming and a second consecutive leg win on Wednesday after an intense 18-day match race with close rivals Camper that has thrown the overall race wide open.
Read’s crew crossed the Miami finish line at 1414 local time, 1814 UTC, with a lead of around five nautical miles over Camper with Emirates Team New Zealand, who gave them a real scare over a fraught final 24 hours and at one point closed to within just 0.6 nm.
Camper approaches the finish line to take second place on Volvo Ocean Race Leg 6 in Maimi, Florida - PredictWind.com
Camper crossed the finish line at 1921hrs UTC to take a vital second place. She sailed an inshore course to try and get onto thunderstorms in that area, in a last bid to try and overtake Puma. Ken Read did not take the covering option and instead sailed the course that would get them directly to the finish, without being sucked in by Camper.
Puma’s valiant defence of their long-held lead, which they lost just briefly to Camper early in the 4,800 nm race from Itajaí, Brazil, has earned them 30 points and made them serious trophy contenders with 147 overall.
If Groupama finishes third with overall race leader Telefonica fourth, then places on the overall race points table will remain unchanged. However the points differential will tighten. Puma (147pts) is now just two points off Camper (149pts), which is in third, with Groupama second on 153pts. In the next leg will carry a five point differential, meaning that places could easily change, in fact they could do just that in the InPort Race, Miami. Telefonica retains her overall race lead, by virtue of winning the first three legs, but with a reduced margin of just 15pts, meaning she could potentially lose her entire lead if she finished third or worse on the next leg to her home port in Lorient, France
This is unbelievable,’’ Read said just minutes after crossing the line in the company of about 100 spectator boats. 'It's great to be back in the United States, actually we've been to Miami before in this boat, so this marks our complete circumnavigation.
'It was touch and go, the guys on Camper sailed very well, but I couldn't be more proud of our team, they did an unbelievably great job.'
It is the fourth podium finish in six legs for Puma Ocean Racing powered by Berg and confirms a major fightback since the team’s devastating retirement from Leg 1 with a broken mast.
The finish marks a major shift on the overall race leader board that threatens Team Telefónica’s grip, with their 16-point lead set to decrease by at least one, but potentially five points.
The Spanish team are still on the race track tussling with Groupama sailing team for the remaining podium finish, with an ETA of 2300 UTC.