Puma took the early lead out of Itajai, Brazil, for the start of Leg 6 as Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing's Azzam looks to get on the podium in Miami.
Azzam captain calls for more grit from his crew for Leg 6 to Miami
Ian Walker, the Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing skipper, said his crew were chomping at the bit to get offshore and fight for a Leg 6 podium position.
Azzam only arrived by ship in Itajai, Brazil on Thursday, giving the shore crew about 36 hours to complete repairs to the hull before Saturday's in-port race.
"To be here competing on time and fully repaired is a mega achievement and thanks must go to everyone involved in making it happen," Walker said. "We must now show the same grit and determination that got us here in the next leg.
"We know we have what it takes to be pushing the fleet hard, so we'll come out the blocks raring to go and won't let up.
"For the first time, the weather forecast looks nice. This part of the world can be stormy but it looks predominantly downwind, which is unusual in this race, and it won't be too cold - in fact it will be the opposite problem.
"Everyone will be sad to leave Itajai but we're looking forward to sailing downwind against some actual boats and not dots on the computer."
Puma wasted no time in stating their intentions to win the Leg 6 race to their home country, leading the Volvo Ocean Race fleet out of Itajai and into the first few crucial days of the 4,800 nautical mile course to Miami.
After a six-leg inshore course off the Brazil coast, Puma Ocean Racing were followed around the final mark by Team Telefonica, Camper with Emirates Team New Zealand, Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing's Azzam and Groupama sailing team. The five teams are chasing the maximum 30 points. The leaders Telefonica hold just a 16-point lead over second-placed Groupama with four legs to go.
The fleet will face more moderate conditions than those encountered in previous leg starts, with about 14 knots from the south-east creating perfect reaching conditions for the opening hours.
The conditions are likely to favour Groupama, who have proven they are the team to beat on a reaching track.
"We can enjoy this leg a lot; it has a lot of good conditions, a lot of reaching conditions," Franck Cammas, the Groupama skipper, said. "It's good for the crew, it's good for the boat and I think we can manage this Volvo Open 70 very well in these conditions."
Follow us @SprtNationalUAE