Ken Read drives while navigator Tom Addis eyes the weather just to leeward. Onboard Puma Ocean Racing during leg 7 of the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12, from Miami, USA to Lisbon, Portugal.
He's masterminded two leg wins for Puma, and in the third of a series with some of the most experienced Volvo Ocean Race sailors, navigator Tom Addis tells Volvo Ocean Race's media team what the Puma team have up their sleeves for the closing stages.
Did you ever think the race would be this close at this stage?
No, and especially not after Leg 1, no way. I don’t have a great sense of history but I think this must be one of the closest races for some time. Normally by this stage of the race everyone’s in their positions and it’s a bit of a procession for the last few legs but not this time. It’s fantastic to be in with a shot alongside three other teams.
You’re only 12 points behind leaders Groupama. What’s going to give you that killer edge in the final two legs and three in-port races?
It’s hard to put a finger on anything specific but these legs are going to get more and more detailed, they’re more like in-port races, so manoeuvres are going to have to be timed perfectly both above and below decks. I think that’s going to play a very important role. These aren’t elapsed time races, you’ve only got to beat another team by a boat length and those lengths can be determined very early on in the short legs. It’s all about getting the little details right.
You’ve been on the podium in every stopover so far, whether for the offshore leg or the in-port race. Does knowing you have that consistency give you confidence in a result in the final two legs and inshore races?
Yeah, for sure. If you can finish on the podium for every race, whether offshore or inshore, over 20 races you’re going to be somewhere around the top. It is a big thing and yeah, we expect a decent place when we go into a leg and we work hard to get it. We have been fairly consistent and getting more so as the race progresses.
Who is your biggest rival out of the other three teams in with a chance of winning?
Whoever’s closest above us on the leaderboard, so right now it’s Telefónica. But look, any team that’s above us are the ones we need to beat.
What will Leg 8 hold in store?
We’re heading out towards the Azores and then back to Lorient, so it’s a bit of a retrace of the last leg in some ways. It will generally be upwind to get to the Azores and then downwind after that. It’s a windward-leeward with not too much reaching. With these shorter legs you have to fit inside the weather windows, so if you get a front through at a particular time it can change everything. The longer legs tend to average out a little bit more but on the shorter legs you could set off today or tomorrow and get very different conditions. Everything has to be perfect on these next two legs. On the longer legs you can have a bad one and make it back up again but these shorter legs you have to be on the right side of everything.