They’ve had plenty of ups and downs over the course of the race, but PUMA skipper Ken Read said he couldn’t be any more proud of his 10 team mates as they secured third place overall in the 2011-12 Volvo Ocean Race.
"The best part about it is we’re all really good friends and that’s really hard to do after going round the world" - Ken Read on his PUMA crew
The American crew’s campaign was dealt a cruel blow midway through the first leg from Alicante, Spain, to Cape Town, South Africa, when their mast broke but they refused to let it affect them, bouncing back to not only re-join racing but notch up 15 podium finishes in 18 scoring opportunities along the way.
And although they’ve been cooped up in a 70ft carbon shell for the majority of the race, Read said he wouldn’t swap any one of his crew, who have become best mates through the epic 39,000-mile race.
“I wouldn’t trade my 10 guys for anyone in the world,” Read said. “The best part about it is we’re all really good friends and that’s really hard to do after going round the world.
“There’s plenty of times when things can get a little testy and this crew didn’t allow that to happen.
“They’re 10 great people that I’ll do anything with and I owe everything to at this stage. They’re good friends and that’s what’s most important.”
PUMA narrowly missed out on second overall with their Leg 9 lead snatched by CAMPER within four hours of the finish after they sailed into a wind hole off the coast of Ireland.
Read said it was typical of the luck they’ve had at crucial moments of the Volvo Ocean Race – but concluded that settling for third in such a talent-strewn field of sailors wasn’t all that bad.
“We’re kinda the hard luck kids – we get a nice little lead, park and wait for everyone to catch up,” he said.
“It’s happened so many times in this event. Never in my life have I ever witnessed anything like that.
“That said, we give all the credit in the world to CAMPER and to Groupama. You are what you are at the end of the day, and we’re going to end up third overall.
“I guess that’s pretty good seeing as we were sitting in the middle of the ocean without a mast not too long ago. We have something to be proud of for that.”
Ever the gentleman, Read also had nothing but kind words for French rivals Groupama sailing team, whose second-place secured them overall victory.
“They’re fast, they’re smart, and that’s a deadly combination,” he added. “I give them so much credit because they started this event pretty far behind the eight-ball especially in light air.
“They made up ground in several of their weak areas like I’ve never seen another sailboat team do before.
“I’ve gotten to know a lot of these guys, I really like them as people, as competitors, and I give them all the congratulations in the world – they deserve it.”