Volvo Ocean Race - Merry Christmas from Puma Ocean Racing

The last of the tradewind sailing before entering a volatile Indian Ocean "doldrums." PUMA Ocean Racing powered by BERG during leg 2 of the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12
Volvo Ocean Race, Day 14 of Leg 2. Ken Read, Skipper of Puma Ocean Racing powered by Berg reports on the crew's progress:

I have finally realized what our ultimate responsibility in life is. We are your constant stream of holiday and personal day reminders. Happy Thanksgiving, birthday, anniversary, bar mitzvah...you name it we shout it out. And for the last time – Merry Christmas all! From all of us here on the fine yacht Puma’s Mar Mostro.

It has been a fairly eventful Christmas on board the yacht. First of all, my wife Kathy dropped some Xmas cheer on the boat via Amory. She knew I wouldn't take any extra weight, so she went to Amory who took it and hid it aboard. Some nice cut-outs of stockings, those popper things with the crazy paper king hat and a little gift inside (my gift was a huge set of red lips. Kelvin got a super ball which he tried to bounce as hard and high as he could off the cockpit floor and it ricocheted off the boom and hit Tony square in the private parts). We each got a mini bottle of Amarula from South Africa (which tasted really good in my coffee) and some chocolate. So on behalf of the team, thanks Kath.

All of the team spoke to home via sat phone [Sunday]. It is the worst thing about this, missing important days and family gatherings. You know, the same gatherings that you dread from time to time? Well, when you miss them altogether you realize how important and fun they really are. So take it from the group of 11 stranded in the middle of the Indian Ocean, appreciate your family today!

Back to the racing...we have not quit as we said we wouldn't even after our dreadful doldrums crossing. Quite simply, along with Groupama we chose the wrong side of the track when it came to entering the doldrums. Of course it is a shame, but I am pretty sure we are not the first boat in the history of this race to misjudge the breeze in the hardest place in the world to judge the breeze. And because of that, this veteran crew has stuck together and kept fighting and will do so until we cross the finish (in an undisclosed location, of course). About midnight [Sunday] night boat time, I thought I picked up Groupama on the bow on the radar, and the next sched confirmed it was them. But by the time we got the following sched, they had taken a hard right turn around an atoll here in the middle of the ocean and took off to the east. So, our battle royale with them for the podium will have to wait. So far the pendulum has swung towards Mar Mostro, but if anything has proven to be good so far on this leg, it is attacking from behind. Seems like the boats in front keep getting it handed to them. But with that said, Camper and Telefónica did a really good job getting through the doldrums and have toasted us all pretty good. It's going to take a miracle to catch them at this stage, I think.

Finally, a major topic of conversation on board concerning Christmas was the specific goings-on in all or our prospective homes on Xmas morning after Santa had come the night before – both childhood and current. Don't know how it all started, but it brought us all to a very happy yet a bit sad place. Amazing memories and certainly a lost opportunity as we are out here with our shipmates this time around. For sure, you could see in everyone’s eyes that they couldn't wait to see family and kids tearing apart the wrapping paper next year. I am sure Santa himself is a little ticked off that the Reads aren't back in Newport, Rhode Island. He gets a beer left by the chimney every year, which is a tradition passed down from my parents. Seems to always work. It is always empty in the AM, and he hasn't left us coal in a long time.

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