by Ken Read
Volvo Ocean Race – Skipper Ken Read reports from the USA after Puma Ocean Racing powered by Berg sailed across the Leg 6 finish line in Miami, Fl, USA, in first place.
Skipper Ken Read on the helm with navigator Tom Addis standing close by. Onboard PUMA Ocean Racing powered by BERG during leg 6 of the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12, from Itajai, Brazil, to Miami, USA.
Wow. The only word that comes to mind.
The last couple days were so stressful that I completely forgot to give you my wrap-up. Sorry about that, but please understand...Camper was relentlessly breathing down our necks right to the very end – and they are a complete pain in the ass!!!!! And also please understand that I say that as a compliment with the highest regard for how they sailed this leg.
There are legs that are physically grueling. This was not one of those legs. But it certainly made up for it in the mentally grueling category. Tom Addis was really on top of his game this leg. I think he and I are working better together each leg, and it shows with confident placement on the race track, and certainly there’s faith in the team and the boat to win a type of race that is such a grind.
I can only equate what I am trying to say to an American football analogy. Some teams like to play shootout style games, trying to score a million points by throwing the ball all over the field to win. A pretty risky strategy, but when it works you sure look good. Other teams don't mind playing defensive-minded games – they’re always close but you think you have the horses to win, the 'keep it close to the vest' type games. We certainly played this last leg in the latter. Defensive when we could be, and rely on the boys and the boat to win the close game.
What is the drawback of this style? Well, by keeping it close we are clearly giving our friends, family and fans anxiety beyond belief. Some of the emails I get after legs are amazing.
One said, 'Please don't continue racing like this as you almost gave my 77-year-old mother heart failure…who is a massive Puma fan btw.' Another elegantly proclaimed, 'Holy #%!@…what a great job. I am &^#$-ing speechless.' And, that was from a friend who is never speechless. Some friends claim they pray daily to wind gods such as Pele, others claim we have forced them to simply become religious in general terms. Finally, a common theme also appears to be the fact that the stress and strain we put on our friends has pushed many towards being alcoholics.
Quite an influence we appear to have, eh?
We are home for a bit. Back in the USA. It is meaningful to finish in to our home country in first. A short flight home now for a few days to watch my daughter play tennis, and actually be a dad, a husband and a friend to a shedding golden retriever. Then back at it next week with a renewed energy and a hopeful focus that we can keep this momentum rolling and make this race closer by the minute.
Confidence is a wonderful thing when you have it, but we all understand that it can be fleeting. Got to figure out how to bottle it. And continue to keep our fans on the edge of their seats.
Sorry, but it’s the only way we know how.
Volvo Ocean Race website