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16 October 2008, 04:52 pm
Puma Packs A Punch
PUMA at the start of leg one
PUMA have moved into the overall lead of the race

Volvo Ocean Race 2008-09

PUMA broke away from the rest of the Volvo fleet today and headed for the open ocean.
American skipper Ken READ and his crew gybed away from the shore and onto a westerly course at around 10:40 UTC and has added over 20 nautical miles to her lead over the last 24 hours.

Telefónica Black (Fernando ECHAVARRI/ESP) made the move west yesterday and is now 328 nautical miles offshore and the Spanish team's position is not looking good. The black boat is now 221 nautical miles behind il Mostro, who snatched the lead from Ericsson 3 (Anders LEWANDER/SWE) at 07:00 UTC yesterday.

Is the 'cat' afraid that the wind will be light off the coast of Mauritania and gybed west to avoid it?

Ericsson 3, who has been faithfully latched onto PUMA's track for the last 24 hours, has not followed the move to the west and is still screaming along the African coast. As PUMA started to draw away, the crew of Ericsson 3 piled on the pressure.

"We are VERY close to a wipe-out," wrote Norwegian navigator Aksel MAGDAHL today. Their team mates, on Ericsson 4 (Torben GRAEL/BRA), are 74 nautical miles to the west of them and in third position.

Meanwhile, cool, calm and very collected, at the head of the fleet, PUMA's skipper READ says it's all in a day's work. But, earlier today, he explained that actually it is a tactical a game of cat and mouse with the fleet, waiting to see who will break first for the west.

"We will certainly find out in a couple of days who is right, and who is wrong," he said. "You never really know until the cards are dealt - sometimes days after the decisions are made, and this dash to the west is still starting for us all." Which team will pick the correct line? We will have to wait and see. PUMA clearly likes the 20-knot running conditions. "It's a relief I guess," says READ. "Hopefully as we learn our strengths and weaknesses against the fleet, we will grow to love the 'monster'," he added.

Over the last hour, it has been Delta Lloyd (Ger O'ROURKE/IRL) who has averaged the highest boat speed of 22 knots over the last hour, but PUMA has the best 24-hour run of 390 nm. Both Green Dragon (Ian WALKER/GBR) and Telefónica Blue (Bouwe BEKKING/NED) have reached a top speed of 28 knots, while three other boats have recorded 27 knots.

"If you like speed, open oceans and the feeling of overwhelming power that surfing down a wave gives you, then a Volvo Open 70 is the boat to sail," says Gustav MORIN (SWE), the media crew member on Ericsson 3. "I asked our skipper how the boat feels to sail in comparison with Playstation/Cheyenne, the big record-breaking catamaran that he raced around the world. The answer came with a shout: 'It's like sailing a bus compared with this'."

At the tail-end of the fleet, Telefónica Blue is still trying to claw back the miles after their pit-stop shortly after the start for repairs. Although the team is trying to be patient, it is proving hard.

"Having to watch the rich get richer is never a nice thing," says navigator Simon FISHER (GBR). "We are looking longingly at the position reports, wishing we were up there too - something that we know that we are more than capable of, but have not yet had the chance to show."

Andreas HANAKAMP (AUT) in charge of Team Russia, currently on the hip of Delta Lloyd, is also trying to find a way to reel in the leaders. "We have the most pleasant sailing one can imagine," he says, but, "the only thing that doesn't make us happy is that we don't find a way to close up to the leaders. As it looks at the moment, there are not too many opportunities until we get to the Doldrums. The key is, to stay in touch."

Green Dragon came out of hiding yesterday afternoon at 16:00 UTC after playing their Stealth card, the first time StealthPlay has been activated on this leg. The Dragons went into hiding in fourth place and secretly went straight through the Canary Islands before emerging at 16:00 UTC still in fourth place. As yet, no one else has been tempted to 'disappear', but there are still just over 5,000 nautical miles to go on this, the second longest leg of the course.

Leg One Day 6: 13:00 UTC Volvo Ocean Race Positions
(boat name/country/skipper/nationality/distance to leader)

PUMA Racing Team USA (Ken READ/USA) 5056 DTF
Ericsson 3 SWE (Anders LEWANDER/SWE) +24
Ericsson 4 SWE (Torben GRAEL/BRA) +52
Green Dragon IRL/CHN (Ian WALKER/GBR) +69
Delta Lloyd IRL (Ger O'ROURKE/IRL) +95
Team Russia RUS (Andreas HANAKAMP/AUT) +106
Telefónica Blue ESP (Bouwe BEKKING/NED) +148
Telefónica Black ESP (Fernando ECHAVARRI/ESP) +221

Volvo Ocean Race Leaderboard
(After In-Port race 1)

1. Telefónica Blue (Bouwe BEKKING/Iker MARTINEZ), 4 points
2. Telefónica Black (Fernando ECHAVARRI), 3.5 points
3. Puma Il Mostro (Ken READ), 3 points
4. Ericsson 4 (Torben GRAEL), 2.5 points
5. Green Dragon (Ian WALKER), 2 points
6. Delta Lloyd (Ger O'ROURKE), 1 point
7. Ericsson 3 (Anders LEWANDER), 0.5 points*
8. Team Russia (Andreas HANAKAMP), 0.5 points

*one point has been deducted from the Ericsson 3 score as per the jury decision number JN04 2 October.

Go here for all the news on the Volvo Ocean Race 2008-09

Volvo Ocean Race - www.volvooceanrace.org

Lizzie Ward
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