x Abu Dhabi, UAE Friday 21 July 2017

'A huge setback' for Puma

The Volvo Ocean Race has suffered another casualty after a broken mast shattered Puma Ocean Racing's bid to complete Leg 1 to Cape Town.

CAPE TOWN // The Volvo Ocean Race has suffered another casualty after a broken mast shattered Puma Ocean Racing's bid to complete Leg 1 to Cape Town.

With Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing and Team Sanya already retired, yesterday found Puma's Mar Mostro dismasted and limping toward Tristan da Cunha, a south Atlantic archipelago with about 270 residents and a white sign that reads "Welcome to the Remotest Island."

"To say we're disappointed would be the understatement of the century," Ken Read, the American skipper, said through Puma.

Mar Mostro became the second boat (after Abu Dhabi's Azzam) with a mast broken into three on the leg from Alicante, Spain. It happened in 23-knot wind on Monday just after 2pm UTC (6pm UAE), and it left only the leaders Telefonica (Spain), second-place Camper (Spain/New Zealand) and Groupama (France) finishing the southbound push toward Cape Town, with arrival estimated on Friday.

As with Wade Morgan, the Abu Dhabi bowman, on the night of November 5 in the Mediterranean Sea, the Puma bowman, Casey Smith, swam to free the mainsail from the fallen mast. As with Abu Dhabi and Sanya, whose boats are on Cape Town-bound ships, Puma faces zero points for the leg and logistical decisions about boat transport.

"This is a huge setback for the programme, but is it the end of the programme? Not even a little bit," Read said. The words rang similar to those of Ian Walker, the Abu Dhabi skipper, who also said in Spain, "You wouldn't normally expect to break a mast. Nobody broke a mast in the last race. I've never broken a mast before."

In another accident Camper's Mike Pammenter broke a tooth and cut his face when he slammed into the rigging during a sail change. Chris Nicholson, the skipper, said: "Mike getting hurt and Puma dropping their rigging leave a bit of a hole in the stomach. It's an extremely harsh moment for everyone."