• 07-APR-2012

  • SOURCE: Volvo Ocean Race

Puma Clinch Victory in Leg 5 as Telefónica Fall Just Short

Itajaí, Brazil – PUMA held firm in the face of a relentless attack from Telefónica to clinch an epic Leg 5 victory on Friday, crossing the finish line in Itajaí, Brazil with a slim winning margin after the Spanish team had threatened to complete one of the greatest sporting comebacks.

After more then 7,500 nautical miles of racing from Auckland, starting with a first-night battering as bad as any in the race's history and on through brutal conditions in the Southern Ocean and around Cape Horn, PUMA's Mar Mostro crossed the Itajaí finish in brilliant sunshine at 16:09:51 local time (19:09:51 UTC) to take their first victory of the 2011-12 edition. Telefónica crossed the finish line at 16:22:29 local.

It was an extraordinary finish to the battle for first place in a leg that saw five of the six boats forced to stop for repairs.

Telefónica were 400 miles behind the leaders when they resumed racing following a pit stop to work on structural damage to their boat. They quickly began to reduce that gap and when Groupama were forced out following a dismasting they were suddenly in a two-way battle for first.

PUMA Ocean Racing powered by BERG score 30 points for their win, taking their total to 113 points. It means they are just 34 points behind overall leaders Team Telefónica, despite having been forced to retire from Leg 1 because of a broken mast.

A mix of emotions from elation and relief was evident on the faces of the 11 crew on board PUMA, as they celebrated their victory.

"I've never done such a tough offshore leg in my life," Ken Read said moments after stepping shore. "We ran out of food a day and a half ago so we haven't eaten for a day and a half. It's been pretty intense. Our hearts go out to the crews who have suffered damage."

Telefónica had been written off after suspending racing for 17 hours for structural repairs inside the Cabo de Hornos National Park on March 31. The team resumed racing later that night, more than 400 miles behind the leaders.

Nevertheless, a powerful South Atlantic front that rose from the south propelled Telefónica to within striking range of PUMA within days. Anxiety levels were rising on board PUMA, even after Groupama's dismasting on April 4, but Read's men were able to steel their nerves in a long match-race to the finish line for their first leg victory in this edition.

PUMA have had a steady rise since the devastating blow of their broken mast on Leg 1. In the past four scoring events PUMA have finished second three times and now first, with real momentum with the American-based team, as they head towards Leg 6 to Miami, Florida, United States.


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