‘It never rains but it pours’, the saying goes, and that’s certainly the case for PUMA Ocean Racing as they continue the mammoth Mar Mostro rescue mission.
“It’s going to ask a lot of us and there’s probably going to be a few more setbacks but we have a pretty awesome team assembled. We’re still in the window of ‘this is possible’” - Mike Brady, PUMA Ocean Racing rigger
PUMA’s shore crew jumped into action following the dismasting of their Volvo Open 70 in the South Atlantic on November 21 and have spent the last eight days working flat out on a plan to get the team back into the race.
It’s not been easy – the original ship booked to meet Mar Mostro in Tristan da Cunha was cancelled at the last minute, forcing the shore team to opt for a ship from Durban instead, adding precious days to their operation.
And if that wasn’t bad enough, the truck transporting the mast on the two-day trip from Johannesburg to Cape Town keeps breaking down.
“It’s been a huge ordeal, a proper test of nerve, and it’s not over yet,” said PUMA Ocean Racing powered by BERG rigger Mike Brady, who is overseeing the transport of the mast.
“It’s like warfare – periods of activity with lots of waiting.
“The truck sounds like it’s on its last legs, which is a bit of a concern because the job’s only half done.
“It’s broken down three times, but I’m told it’s not going to happen any more.”
Despite the setbacks, Brady said the team remained utterly focused on getting their boat back into the Volvo Ocean Race, which starts again with the Cape Town In-Port Race on December 10 followed by the Leg 2 start the following day.
“It’s going to ask a lot of us and there’s probably going to be a few more setbacks but we have a pretty awesome team assembled,” he said. “We’re still in the window of ‘this is possible’.”
Brady said the 30-metre carbon mast would be loaded on the truck this afternoon – and by early evening would be en route to Cape Town.
“The truck trip will take the best part of two days with everything going well,” he added. “They are an oversized cargo so they have to travel pretty slowly. The rig is quite a robust piece but it’s irreplaceable so we need it to get there in one piece. As soon as it arrives in Cape Town we will lay into it with the goal of having it ready when the boat turns up. Then we’ll start phase two of the panic.”
Meanwhile, the PUMA sailors stranded on Tristan have kept their moral up, enjoying the hospitality laid on by the local community.
With the rescue boat just days away, thoughts have now turned back to the race – and the huge task that lies in store once the team arrive in Cape Town.
“No matter what we’ve been doing, nobody has ever—not once—hung it up and looked down,” PUMA’s media man Amory Ross said.
“Don’t lose the faith… As I wrote just before we dropped our rig, we’ve got a good boat, a great team, and if we sail smart and safe, we’ll be in great shape.
“Nothing’s changed, not one bit. I speak for everyone when I say we’re looking forward to getting back on the race track soon and proving what we’re made of, making good on what we’re here to do: sail fast, and faster than everyone else.”
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