September 5th, 2008
Alicante, Spain, September 5, 2008 – PUMA Ocean Racing arrived in Alicante, Spain mid
afternoon today (CET) , successfully delivering their boat il mostro from their training base in
Newport, RI. The team left Newport on August 26th in preparation of the start of the Volvo
Ocean Race on October 4. The transatlantic crossing was a chance for the team to see how the
boat handled in the open ocean
“We called this our team’s “Leg 1.” It was great practice for our boat and team,” said Skipper
Ken Read. “We were able to work out some kinks and really come together as a team. Our
goal at the beginning of this project was to get a great team of guys on il mostro, and I can
confidently say that we have succeeded. Our boat performed well and, we’re looking forward to
getting this race started.”
The PUMA boat and sailors will remain in Spain until October. The team still has to participate
in the required safety training, weather briefs and il mostro will undergo official measurement by
Volvo Officials. Ken and his crew will also use the time to practice of the In-Port and Pro-Am
Races which will be held October 4-5.
For more information about the race, team and the PUMA Sailing collections, please visit
September 4th, 2008
September 3, 2008
Up until now, the nights have been black, without a moon or stars, leaving us to drive
only using the instruments to reference our position. But last night nature smiled on our
PUMA team and could make see the Big Bear and so many other constellations. Salty
took his position at the wheel earlier, he is really happy when he’s at the helm. “Being a
child, I dreamed of moments of navigation like this one,” he told us. It’s not surprising
the grin on his face, il mostro has not gone any slower than 20 knots for 4 hours even
though the conditions are relatively quiet. Capey was certainly right to move our
Newport send-off up a day early, providing us with nice wind throughout our journey.
The boat moves smoothly, has good speed, is heading right towards Gibraltar and quickly
checking off the miles. The important question of whether our boat is fast or not will only
be answered after that race begins, but all signs look good so far. ‘il mostro’ is
performing well. Michi has now taken over at the helm, our young but talented German
is in high spirits. As for me, my bunk is calling so I must leave you for now, so long…
September 3rd, 2008
September 02, 2008
As our fearless Watch Captain Sidney Gavignet once told me, there are very few high level boats being sailed without Kiwis onboard. He should know as he won this race with a boat full of them in the Volvo 2005-2006. For those of you not akin to the sailing slang, a Kiwi is a New Zealander. I have to agree that it seems they grow great sailors on trees down there. Fortunately, we have two if the most solid Kiwis I know onboard. Justin Ferris and Rob Salthouse.
Instead of telling you how great they are at sailing I thought I should give you a quick insight to who they are as people. Sure they are both solid as-a-rock sailors and can do just about anything on the boat, but what are they really like? Justin is one of the most subtle sarcastic ball busters I have ever met. You don’t even see if coming most of the time! It just gets you right when you’re not expecting it. Michi has been the recipient of it lately, and I have to admit, I have jumped in between on occasion to stir it up, but it’s funny and part of what we do out here. Being real and having fun is all a huge part of being offshore. Justin’s sarcasm is a welcome wit – though when it’s coming down on me it may not be so hilarious.
Salty is a different tale to tell. He came to us late in the game and was one of our last crew members to sign up. And as the last person in, Salty has not had the luxury of choosing the tasks he’s in charge of. Meaning – Salty got stuck with the food program. He has brought along the typical freeze dried delicacies that could choke a horse. This stuff is bad and not getting any better. But, he has also eased a new treat into the mix, some bizarre canned New Zealand creamed rice. Canned!!! Not exactly the light weight food we were hoping he would turn up with. So far, Sidney is the only one who dares open a can and eat it, but as we have learned, Sid is the garbage disposal amongst the crew. So finally, Salty was confronted about the mysterious canned rice from New Zealand and was specifically asked if this was his version of “never doing a bad job well.” No way he claims- that was not his intent (with a small wry smile to go along with his confession). But is has all backfired and he is now food boy for life because his creamed rice has brought so many bad jokes and amusement to the crew that no matter what the weight penalty, it is clearly worth taking to have Salty’s canned New Zealand creamed rice in our daily diet – or at least talk about it. Now if we could only find another person to try it.
Oh yes, sailing. We are still ripping toward Alicante and now officially a day ahead of our schedule thanks to the low that we are still riding at breakneck speed. The amazing things about these boats is that is does not take much to go 20 knots. So it is not like we are on rails or anything, just ripping along at 18-25 knots having fun with a lot of smiles and laugher on deck.
Very few boats in the world would allow you to say this as most would have you holding on for dear life at those speeds. I have to admit that early on in the program our goal was to get a great bunch of guys on this boat, and for now it is easy to say we have succeeded.
September 2nd, 2008
September 01, 2008
Life onboard the good ship PUMA has been quite a mixture to date with days you want to forget followed by days you will remember for the rest of your life. With our ever rotating watch system the guys get to spend time with mostly everyone onboard.
Today we had a couple of Aussies reminiscing of the luck county and its great cuisine. Basically, any cuisine is great compared to the jailhouse slop onboard the slave ship here. Anyway, the conversion between me and Casey Smith turned to some of our favorite foods at home. We could almost taste the dog’s eye and a rat coffin washed down with chocolate milk, ummm. I promise these foods are not what they seem and you’ll have to find a true blue Aussie if you need a translation.
As we have seen in the previous races, these boats are impressive and not to be taken for granted. I am currently experiencing a lot of trouble sleeping in by bunk. I’m not getting much sleep and it’s amazing how little sleep you can go with over these periods at sea. But, in the usual way, when you get tired enough you’ll sleep a bit.
Other than the typical toilet stories, all is good here. The team is looking forward to getting to Spain. There is still a lot of work to do but we’ll make sure to have a few beers and maybe try to find a dog’s eye for lunch.
September 1st, 2008
August 31, 2008
I was laying in my bunk here on PUMA’s il mostro wondering what all Volvo skippers must be wondering but afraid to ask out loud. Is our boat fast enough? Is it strong enough? Will it go the distance? The crazy thing is that 7 of these Volvo 70′s have been built in the last year and nobody knows the answer. It’s like opening day of the baseball season. All teams have great hopes of winning the pennant and reaping the rewards. Fact is nobody really knows what their team is going to be like over the long haul. This race is exactly like opening day.
As the last skipper to join the blogging fray, it has been fascinating to read the upbeat reports from all the teams on how great the boats are and how their programs. Why wouldn’t they be optimistic? All is rosy when none of us have ever lost a race against another Volvo 70! But the simple fact is we are all fibbing in a way. We don’t know what this race has in store for us. Well, maybe Ericsson knows because they had the distinct luxury and foresight of purchasing the winner of the last race and testing their new boats against it. As for the rest of us, we can only guess. And am I willing jump in and say we have the be all/end all boat of the century? Absolutely not! We like our boat, but fact is we won’t know anything until the gun goes in the beginning of October. I think that unanswered question brings quite a fascination to this race in a way. Even the America’s Cup now tests against all other teams prior to the Cup being held (that is when the America’s Cup is actually being held). Even most of the open 60′s have sailed against each other in one form or another prior to their big events, but the Volvo Ocean Race is the only race that I can think of which allows you to make a class of boat specifically for one event. Amazing actually. For the Volvo we will literally show up, shake the hands of our competitors, probably have a beer or two with them and wish them good luck and be safe and we’re off! With absolutely no idea if we have a fast or slow horse to get around the track. Unreal.
Sorry, I digressed, now onto the boat. We are tearing across the pond. Working on a 500 mile 24 hour run (stands at 465 right now but I think we have a good chance of breaking 500). This is cool simply because it really hasn’t blown very hard, nothing over 25 knots over the last couple days. The wind on average is mostly around 20. By far the best part of my day was going on deck and stirring up a very interesting political debate between Jonathan McKee (Obama supporter) and Jerry Kirby (McCain supporter). I kind of rode the fence enough to get the two of them jabbing pretty good. Although Jerry’s intellect far exceeds expectations when you first meet him, I have to give the nod to Jonathan. He must have spent time on the Yale debate team while planning on winning multiple Olympic sailing medals. Not that he is a screaming liberal, and not that Jerry is just to the right of Attila the Hun–it was just very interesting to hear their views while ripping down waves in the middle of the Atlantic in the mid 20 knot range. Ah, life aboard il mostro.
Sorry this has become so verbose but I have just had a great hour of driving and am in a terrific mood, listening to my ipod which my daughter Tory has figured a way to stuff full of teeny bopper tunes. Oh well, reminds me of my great kid.
All’s good aboard il mostro.
August 29th, 2008
August 28, 2008
1000 miles behind us with about 2000 mile to go to Gibraltar. Here is a rundown of some testing conditions we’ve encountered in the past 24 hours. A nasty low parked to the south of us and we had to beat around the top of it. Mix in a little adverse current from the gulf stream and you have a bit of uncomfortable sailing on your hands. But, all is good now and we’re on a beam reach and churning up the miles after getting into the southerlies. These winds should stick with us for a couple of days.
It’s been pretty interesting getting to know people’s idiosyncrasies. For example, I have never seen Capey (Andrew Cape) get into his bunk until I essentially until tucked him yesterday for a little bit. He is always sleeping at his nav station or on the floor, or wherever he seems to want to. A great tendency I guess, to be able to sleep anywhere, anytime, in any condition, always in his foul weather gear ready to jump at a moments notice.
Michi Mueller claims he is going around the world with his ponytail intact. I couldn’t imagine all that hair covered in salt for days at a time, but he appears committed. The boys claim that King Neptune may have something to say about Michi’s hairstyle when he crosses the equator for the first time. But only time will tell, Michi is the biggest guy on this boat and I for sure could seem him beating down the person that cuts his locks.
Boat handling on the lousy sea is going well so far. Still working out a bunch of little bugs but that is what we are doing this for.
August 29th, 2008
August 27, 2008
Moving day aboard il mostro. We are always in a dilemma. When practicing, or in this case delivering the boat across the Atlantic Ocean, we have to learn, with the goal being keep making the boat and team faster. But, at the same time, if we break the boat we will have to limp back to Rhode Island or up to Halifax, or wherever the wind would take a wounded boat in the North Atlantic. That would be bad, real bad. After all, we do not want to miss the start of this race.
Don’t worry, we aren’t broken. Actually, we’re anything but. The boat is handling like a dream out here and the crew is settling into a routine onboard. What I have ringing in my head though is our illustrious Operations and Shore Team Manager Neil Cox stating one very specific demand about 2 minutes from pushing us off the dock in Newport in his best Australian tongue, “Mate, whatever you do, don’t break the vessel.”
Well Coxy, it is pretty hard to tame the monster at times. Navigator Andrew Cape got us nicely situated on the back side of a cold front and we just knocked off 254 miles in 12 hours. Not quite record pace but pretty quick none the less. And this is happening all while having “don’t break the vessel” ringing on our ears.
We have had a couple of interesting happenings onboard. Our media guru Rick “Danger” Deppe wanted to label his clothes and gear with his initials – including his headlamp. Unfortunately for Rick, he put on the headlamp prior to the indelible ink drying and effectively stamped his initials backwards on his forehead. My guess is that those are there for a few days. He looks like the front of an ambulance.
Anyway, all is good here. We’re getting back into the rhythm again, one of being wet and eating lousy food.
August 26th, 2008
Newport, Rhode Island, August 26, 2008 – PUMA Ocean Racing left Newport, Rhode Island today for their final warm-up before the start of the Volvo Ocean Race. This transatlantic crossing from Newport to Alicante, Spain is no simple feat and will be the final test of the PUMA Ocean Racing Team and the boat before the race begins. Skipper Ken Read and his crew have been preparing PUMA’s il mostro for this moment since its launch in late April. PUMA’s il mostro is expected to arrive in Spain by the first week in September. Once in Alicante, the PUMA sailors will participate in required safety training, weather brief,s and il mostro will go through official measurement. Ken Read will also make sure his crew has plenty of practice for the In-Port and Pro-Am Races on October 4-5, the official start of the 37,000 mile, 11-stop, adventure around the world. Today was the last time both il mostro and the crew will be in North America until the boat and sailors return back to US soil in late April of 2009 when the Volvo Ocean Race makes it only US stopover in Boston. The Volvo Ocean Race at Fan Pier Boston waterfront will host the Volvo Ocean Race Official Race Village, organized by The Fallon Company. PUMA, the only US based entry, will have sailed around the globe once before reaching Boston in 2009. After the Boston stopover, they will head back across the Atlantic for the final legs of the 2008-2009 Race. The around-the-world race will end in St. Petersburg, Russia in June 2009.
“We can’t wait to get this race started,” exclaimed Read as he left the dock for the “little sail” across the pond. “We will have put nearly 8,000 miles of sailing on il mostro prior to the start of the race and feel pretty good about the boat and its capabilities. I hope the boat is quick, but we will never know until we finally get this adventure started for real.”
PUMA announced their entry into the sailing category in May 2007, when they officially entered into the Volvo Ocean Race 2008-2009 with the PUMA Ocean Racing Team. The around-the- world race will extend over 9 months and visit 11 port stopovers. In addition to their Volvo entry, PUMA is also the official supplier of the merchandise for the 2008-2009 Race and will carry a full line of performance and lifestyle apparel, footwear and accessories available at sailing specialty stores and select PUMA Concept stores.
For more information about the race, team and the PUMA Sailing collections, please visit www.pumaoceanracing.com