by Amory Ross
Volvo Ocean Race, Day 20 of the second stage of Leg 4. Amory Ross, MCM for Puma Ocean Racing powered by Berg, reports on the crew's progress:
Day 20 onboard PUMA’s Mar Mostro brings more pleasant weather, and soon sight of land. PUMA Ocean Racing powered by BERG during leg 4 of the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12
'LAAAAAAAAAAAAAND HOOOOOOOOOO!!!!' Tony Mutter, never to be outdone by an Australian in his home waters.
This has all the makings of a lasting memory, or potentially – a 'last'-ing one. While Groupama’s lead looks insurmountable (and rightfully so, they have sailed a flawless leg), we’re staring down the barrel of a tight three-way race for second place, or a podium-less fourth, with one day to go.
People talk about the Volvo Ocean Race, the Whitbread, and New Zealand synonymously; there is a rich ocean racing history here that far exceeds just about anywhere. Most of us recognize names like Steinlager and Sir Peter Blake, and we’ve heard stories about kiwi enthusiasm for an event they truly embrace, but few of us have ever had the chance to experience it firsthand. We are fortunate enough to get such an opportunity tomorrow, one way or another, but we have a chance to make it something even more special.
Kiwi Tony Mutter gazes upon Cape Reinga, the northernmost tip of New Zealand's North Island. PUMA Ocean Racing powered by BERG during leg 4 of the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12, from Sanya, China to Auckland, New Zealand. (Credit: Amory Ross/PUMA Ocean Racing/Volvo Ocean Race)
After sailing over five and a half thousand miles from Sanya, China, the 11 of us onboard Puma’s Mar Mostro – including locals Tony, Brad, and Kelvin – are leading Telefónica and Camper for second place by just 20 miles with less than 24 hours to sail. Cape Reinga and the northern tip of New Zealand are now within sight, and after a long night of side-by-side drag racing, Telefónica lurks only five miles to leeward, unwilling to budge, and Camper a further seven to leeward of them.
Our strategy from here to Auckland is a complicated one to predict: the remaining miles are full of navigational choices and an uncertain forecast dominated not by oceans but by coastal effects like tides and thermal winds. If we can round Cape Reinga in second and start our southeasterly march before the others, our 'covering' scenarios improve. But on the other hand, leading the pack into predicted lighter winds comes with a degree of risk.
Regardless of where we finish I’m sure we’re in for an exciting morning, but it needn’t be said we’ll be doing anything and everything we can to be the second boat home! We’re ready to get to Auckland, and I’m sure Auckland is ready to have us.
Puma Ocean Racing website