x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 January 2018

Puma get a breath of fresh air to draw closer to Volvo leaders

As their deficit to the leading boats continues to shrink, spirits aboard Puma are rising in the race to Auckland, the fifth of the 10 ports on the Volvo Ocean Race.

Kelvin Harrap continues to guide Puma's 'Mar Mostro' along its route to Auckland, New Zealand.
Kelvin Harrap continues to guide Puma's 'Mar Mostro' along its route to Auckland, New Zealand.

Puma continued their pursuit of an epic comeback in Leg 4 of the Volvo Ocean Race on Sunday as the resurgent Americans clawed back 150 nautical miles from their rivals in under 24 hours.

After a poor start when the fleet left Sanya, China last Monday, Puma took a radical route to the north in a bid to be the first team to hit a strong weather system.

It was a make-or-break move for the team, who lie in fourth place overall.

For two days they dropped farther and farther off the pace before hitting the wind they needed early Sunday.

Since then, they have gone from 250nm behind to less than 100 and remain the fastest boat in the fleet.

Puma remained in last place last night but with their spirits revived as they have every expectation of making up more miles.

"Regardless of what the next few days of sailing brings, the important thing is that Puma has some swagger back," Amory Ross, the team's media crew member, wrote from the boat.

"The guys are smiling, spirits are high and we've mostly forgotten the last week of torture.

"I say mostly, because everyone owns some lingering bumps and bruises we tend to revisit now and again."

Over the next few days, the teams will turn south and head directly for Auckland, the fifth of 10 ports in the race, which is due to finish in Galway, Ireland in July.

The fleet should arrive in New Zealand around March 8-10.

"There are over 4,000nm to New Zealand, and we all have to transverse areas of little to no wind, and soon," Ross said.

Telefonica, the overall leaders, chose a more southerly route and were also gaining ground on Camper, who lead Leg 4 but are moving much more slowly.

Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing were in fourth place Sunday night.