Puma gambles in Volvo Ocean Race
Puma's gamble in the Volvo Ocean Race appeared to be paying off Saturday as the United States-based team enjoyed boat speeds up to twice as high as its rivals.
While its competitors crawled upwind at 11-15 knots, Puma was speeding with the wind in its favour at 22 knots.
Puma, tied for fourth and in desperate need of points after breaking its mast on leg one, bet everything on leg four by pointing its boat towards Tokyo - the exact opposite direction to the finish line in Auckland, New Zealand.
While other teams waited for the weather to come and push them south, Puma was well to the north and actively seeking out the wind.
The tactic saw Puma hit the breeze well before rivals and cut a 250 nautical mile deficit to 180.
"This is a long-term strategy, not a short-term one," Puma skipper Ken Read said in an interview from the boat. "If we get close to the fleet on the remainder of this leg, we'll know we've failed ... We'll do an arc and hopefully go around them."
Telefonica of Spain won the first three offshore legs and is sailing safely in the main pack in leg four.
Spain-New Zealand team Camper, in second place overall, is the leader on the current leg with a small advantage over the main group.
Leg 4 should finish between March 8-10 in Auckland with the race continuing to Galway, Ireland in July.
Puma finished second in the last Volvo Ocean Race in 2008-09 and was the clear favourite coming into the current edition before breaking its mast in three places in the opening leg.
1. Team Telefonica (Spain) 101 points
2. Camper/ETNZ (Spain/New Zealand) 83
3. Groupama (France) 73
4. Puma (US) 53
5. Abu Dhabi (U.A.E.) 43
6. Team Sanya (China) 17.