Volvo Ocean Race - Must-win opportunity for Puma

Puma Ocean Racing powered by Berg, skippered by Ken Read from the USA, in tough seas, on the approach to the finish of leg 8, from Lisbon, Portugal, to Lorient, France, during the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12.
In the Volvo Ocean Race, Puma skipper Ken Read says he and his crew are viewing this Saturday’s Bretagne In-Port Race as a must-win opportunity to close the gap on overall leaders Groupama.

Despite lying 23 points adrift of Franck Cammas’ crew with just the Lorient and Galway in-port races and final Leg 9 sprint to Ireland to go, Read said his team would keep on fighting as long as there was a glimmer of hope.

'If you look at the points, they are still there to be had, so you never quit,' Read said. 'This crew never needs to be motivated beyond that fact.

'We have to put some points on Groupama for sure. I doubt they are going to have many friends on the racecourse right now.

'There are three guys within fighting distance at least of them, so I’m guessing the green boat finds not a lot of friends out there.

'If that is the case then somebody has got to get ahead and why not us?'

Despite the pressure to perform, Read said Puma planned to approach the Bretagne In-Port Race in the same way as normal, but would be ready to pounce on any opportunity to steal points.

'We chat about certain things, certain strategies, certain ways to play things, but for the most part we will continue to do what we normally do,' he said.

Read said Puma’s strong pedigree in the inshore series so far means they go into this weekend’s 60-minute short course race full of confidence.

'We have been good and consistent -- we haven’t won one yet but we have certainly been consistent. That really doesn’t mean anything other than you have to believe you have a reasonable chance.

'It just depends what the situation throws at you, you have to be flexible, you can’t go in with a hard and fast rule saying this is what we are going to do.

'Things change when the starting gun goes. Depending on where people are spread out along the starting line pretty much dictates your race strategy. We will really just take the situation as it comes and make the best of it.

'Let’s hope the helmsman gets a good start -- when that happens, things normally fall in place,' he added with a wink.

Looking ahead to the start of Leg 9 on Sunday, Read said he was happy with Puma’s offshore performance across the wind range, but said windy reaching conditions on the way to Ireland would favour overall race leaders Groupama.

'We feel like we are a top two or three boat in those conditions, but it would be hard to keep the green boat out of the top three -- and really that is what we need to do.

'It sounds elementary to say it, but at the end of the day you just have to sail better than the other guys and just not make any mistakes.

'That’s all this race is about and the shorter the leg, the fewer mistakes you can make because there is no runway there to make up for it.

'But you can never say never right?' Read concluded. 'This is a sport right down to the very end and we just have to see how it plays out.'

Volvo Ocean Race website