MIAMI, Florida (AFP) –
American Ken Read steered his Puma boat into Miami for an emotional home victory on Wednesday to keep his dream alive of winning the Volvo Ocean Race at the age of 50 at his last attempt.
Read, of Newport, Rhode Island, was runner-up in the last race in 2008-09 but had the worst possible start to ocean racing’s premier event when his boat’s mast snapped in three places in Leg 1 in November.
But he started afresh in Cape Town and has slowly but surely clawed back much of the early points deficit on his rivals and is now the in-form skipper in the race after winning the 4,800-nautical mile stage from Itajai, Brazil, to Miami on Wednesday.
That followed success in the treacherous fifth leg from Auckland, New Zealand to Brazil in which five of the six-strong fleet – all bar Puma – suffered breakages and needed pit-stops.
Camper, the joint Spanish and New Zealand entry skippered by Australian Chris Nicholson, followed Read’s boat into Miami harbor on Wednesday just over an hour behind.
With overall leaders Telefonica of Spain likely to finish fourth, the race is wide open leading up to the trans-Atlantic seventh leg to Lisbon, Portugal which starts on May 20.
The Spanish lead will be reduced to just 11 points if the stage six positions do not change – the remainder of the fleet are due to arrive in Miami later on Wednesday – with Groupama of France in second overall and Camper and Puma still very much in contention with three legs left.
“It’s great to be back in the United States. Actually we’ve been to Miami before in this boat, so this marks our complete circumnavigation,” Read told reporters.
“It was touch and go, the guys on Camper sailed very well, but I couldn’t be more proud of our team, they did an unbelievably great job.”
The 39,000- nautical mile race is scheduled to finish in Galway, Republic of Ireland, on July 7 after eight months’ sailing and visiting 10 countries.