Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12 fifth leg, from Auckland, New Zealand, to Itajaí, Brazil, gets underway on Sunday, March 18. The Puma Ocean Racing powered by Berg team has announced that Thomas Johanson will join the crew for Leg 5.
Thomas Johanson. PUMA Ocean Racing powered by BERG - Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12
Johanson, from Espoo, Finland, will take the place of helmsman Kelvin Harrap (Napier, New Zealand) onboard Puma’s Mar Mostro for the journey. Harrap, who will take a break due to carpal tunnel syndrome in both arms as well as bursitis in his elbow, will remain part of the crew through the In-Port Race on Saturday, March 17.
'Kelvin is a huge part of our crew, and it's tough to lose him at this stage in the game,' said Puma skipper Ken Read. 'We're facing what is always a tough and daunting leg in the race – the Southern Ocean. So, we're incredibly lucky Thomas is able to bring his knowledge and experience to this team for a stretch of sailing he honestly enjoys. The Southern Ocean is no place to sail with injuries that impact your ability to be fast and safe. Its a good time to try and get Kelvin healthy again.'
Johanson, age 42, returns to the Volvo Ocean Race after sailing onboard Ericsson 3 and finishing fourth during the 2008-09 edition of the race. A three-time Olympian (1996, 2000, 2004), he captured the gold medal in the 49er class at the 2000 Olympic Games along with teammate Jyrki Jarvi – Finland's first medal in sailing in 20 years. Johanson won bronze at the 2000 World Championships, he is also a two-time Laser European Champion (1991, 1992) and captured the Laser World Championship in 1993 – a regatta held in Auckland. He recently served as skipper of the 60-foot trimaran TietoEnator from 2004-06.
'I’m excited to be joining the Puma crew, and this is the best leg in the Volvo Ocean Race,' Johanson said. 'The last time I sailed through the Southern Ocean we won the leg, so it brings good memories. The Southern Ocean is both scary and rewarding at the same time. I’m already focused on getting ready for the night sailing, the risks of icebergs as you go so far south, and all that the leg involves. And, the last time I was in Auckland was in 1993 when I won the Laser World Championship – it was also a big moment for me.'
Harrap will begin treatment immediately in New Zealand. If the treatment is successful he is expected to rejoin the crew at the conclusion of Leg 5 in Brazil. He is facing post-race surgery regardless. Harrap, who is in the midst of his third round the world race, was named to the Puma team in March 2011. He has served as helmsman and inshore tactician since the start of this year’s race.
The Volvo Ocean Race started on November 5 in Alicante, and the fleet is traveling 39,000 nautical miles through 10 ports, finishing in Galway, Ireland, in July 2012. Puma is currently in fourth place in the overall standings with 78 points after finishing second in Leg 4 from Sanya, China, to Auckland, while Team Telefónica leads with 121 points.
The Puma Ocean Racing powered by Berg team is under the leadership of Read (Newport, Rhode Island, United States). Collectively, the crew has won the Around the World Race six times. The core includes: Tom Addis, Navigator (Sydney, Australia); Ryan Godfrey, Pitman (Adelaide, Australia); Brad Jackson, Design Coordinator and Watch Captain (Auckland, New Zealand); Thomas Johanson, Helmsman (Espoo, Finland); Rome Kirby, Trimmer and Driver (Newport, Rhode Island, USA); Michael 'Michi' Müller, Bowman (Kiel, Germany); Tony Mutter, Aerodynamics Coordinator and Watch Captain (Auckland, New Zealand); Casey Smith, Systems Manager and Bowman (Brisbane, Australia); Jonathan 'Jono' Swain, Helmsman and Trimmer (Durban, South Africa); Amory Ross, Media Crew Member (Newport, Rhode Island, USA); Kimo Worthington, General Manager (Portsmouth, Rhode Island, United States); and Tim Hacket, Shore Team Manager (Sydney, Australia).
Pos Team Overall
1 Team Telefónica 121
2 Groupama Sailing Team 103
3 Camper with Emirates Team New Zealand 98
4 Puma Ocean Racing powered by Berg 78
5 Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing 53
6 Team Sanya 22
Puma Ocean Racing powered by Berg scoring:
Pos Race/Leg Pts Total
2 Alicante In-Port Race 5 5
-- Leg 1* -- 5
3 Cape Town In-Port Race 4 9
3 Leg 2, Stage 1 16 25
4 Leg 2, Stage 2 (3rd in Leg 2 overall) 3 28
4 Abu Dhabi In-Port Race 3 31
2 Leg 3, Stage 1 5 36
4 Leg 3, Stage 2 12 48
2 Sanya In-Port Race 5 53
2 Leg 4 25 78
* Retired from leg
Puma Ocean Racing website