Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12 first leg is underway, and the Puma Ocean Racing powered by BERG team was picking up speed as they headed out from Alicante, Spain, this afternoon, Saturday 5th November.
The team rounded the in-port loop in the second position behind Camper and was quickly on their way to the second port of Cape Town, South Africa.
'We’re as ready as we’ll ever be,' said skipper Ken Read prior to departure. 'Of course Mother Nature is going to give us a little whack on the way out, but that’s to be expected.'
The Puma crew got off to a solid start and passed the first two marks in the third position before moving up to second. At the leaving mark, Puma’s Mar Mostro and crew was 1 minute, 39 seconds behind Camper.
Laird Hamilton, honorary 12th crew member, left the dock onboard with the Puma crew. Shortly before the team set out across the Mediterranean, Hamilton dove off the back of the boat and was quickly picked up by the shore team.
'What an opportunity to be on the boat at the start of the race with these winds,' Hamilton said. 'To see those guys in their element, see how they operate and how the whole system works is pretty inspiring. And, the jump off was easy – it came quick. I wanted to be on the boat longer.'
While in Alicante, Hamilton spent time with the team and also led paddleboarding demonstrations on the new Puma/Laird Board, a limited-edition carbon fiber stand-up paddleboard.
Volvo Ocean Race announcer Hannah White also jumped from Puma’s Mar Mostro after broadcasting live from onboard back to the Race Village.
Now, the 6,500 nautical mile journey to Cape Town is underway for the Puma Ocean Racing powered by BERG team. As expected, the winds were blowing near 30 knots after the start. At the first position report, Puma was second behind Team Telefónica.
'The boys have been working hard getting the stack on the high side,' said watch captain Brad Jackson from onboard as they passed the leaving mark. 'Now, we’ll get settled down and get into it.' Quoting Ken Read:
(From press conference, 4 November 2011)
'There’s a lot of weather around. It’s really going to be a pretty tough first 24 hours. I guarantee there’s not going to be a whole lot of sleep on these six boats. We could see a little bit of everything – we could get really light air up along the beaches, we could have light air in here at the beginning of the race, it could be very squally. Out in the middle of the Med, for sure there’s quite a bit more breeze. But, this is what we signed up for, this is what we do, and this is what we will do for the next nine months. We take what Mother Nature throws at us, and we deal with it as best as we can.'
'We’ve all sailed these boats in quite a bit of breeze. Just getting from the Canary Islands, were our last training base was, to here, we saw 40 knots of breeze on the nose right outside of Gibraltar. So, I think we’re all used to it – it’s more uncomfortable than anything else, and just kind of a pain in the neck. It would be nice if it was a 20-knot cruise around the world on flat water. But, that’s just not the way it is, and we do it. We’re going to be wet, we’re going to be tired after 24 hours, but that’s absolutely what we all signed up for, and we’re quite confident in the strength of our boat.' Puma Ocean Racing website