Gilligan breaks out the Puma pom poms….
Puma Ocean Racing are moving fast, and as time and tide wait for no man, they have pounced. Il Mostro is, as you read this, stretching her legs and shaking off the cobwebs after a stint on the hard in Alicante. She looked in rude health as she was lowered into the water, mast stepped and sail locker filled.
No doubt some traditional Spanish Chorizo, Manchego cheese and possibly a drop of Sangria were packed on her to offset the Spartan living. What better way to celebrate a return to offshore racing than a good measure of sangria whilst racing out the Straits of Gibraltar humming along at 20+ knots? These weapons generate such a buzz wherever they go and it is awesome to see them back in the water.
Meanwhile back at the Cat cave on Rhode Island; Ken Read has moved fast and drawn the backbone of the team from all over the world. All with one thing in common- a winning mentality. Tony Mutter and Brad Jackson have both crewed on multiple record breaking Open 70’s. Rob Greenhalgh brings a wealth of offshore and in-port racing skills to the table. One can openly state that the under 30 sailors are going to leave Alicante in October 2011 and land in Galway in 2012, twice the men and half the size! They will learn and incredible amount from these vets.
What of the boat? A new Open 70 for the team with a healthy crew input into the sail and hardware of the boat. A wise move on all accounts and one that will surely stand to them. It will be interesting to see two Juan K specials going toe to toe around the world for different teams. Groupama v Puma for the top of the table? Surely not if New Zealand’s entry has anything to say about it. Grant Dalton is spearheading a boat program that will ride into this gun fight fully loaded. Word on the street from the Land of the Long White Cloud is that the design process is 2 months old, with the Cookson boatyard given the honour of casting the mould.
Not to cast aspersions on their entry, but does it not make for interesting reading to see an Australian skipper a New Zealand entry? Not in a million years would one see a Scotsman skipper an Irish entry, though an exception would be made for Billy Connolly!
Are there a lack of Kiwi skippers out there? A quick glance from the Northern Hemisphere down to my antipodean allies and it is plain as day that there are some seriously talented offshore sailors down there- too many not to have one in charge of their entry. As Bob Dylan famously sang- “the times they are a changing”.
Levels of rhetoric are slowly starting to emerge from Italia 70, still waters run deep however and it is clear that once the meal is cooked, the Italians will take to the table. With Ireland, Italy and France to provide entries, one can state that there will be no shortage of nail biting passion, with Galway already itching to throw a party- that will be like ( to quote an Aucklander) “a bunch of boys going bat-sh#t in a school playground at lunchtime”.
The cat has its backbone, and once she has stalked her prey, she will pounce and sink her claws into the rolling swell of the Atlantic, pushing boundaries and chasing records en route to Cape Town; where they will be fattening calves and saving the last of the summer wine to celebrate the arrival of the fleet in 2011. Will Ken Read and co be the first into Cape Town? One thing is for certain, I know who I’m backing to be first in to Auckland!
Life at the Extreme, don’t you just love it! –