Puma Ocean Racing, the American team in the 39,000-nautical mile Volvo Ocean Race, is trying to determine why its mast broke into three pieces two days ago, forcing them to retire from the first leg of the marathon around the world.
The rig aboard Puma’s Mar Mostro failed in the southern Atlantic, about 2,150 nautical miles from Cape Town, South Africa, where the leg finishes. No one was hurt. The race began Oct. 29 in Alicante, Spain.
"Chances are it will be some little fitting that simply gave it up at the wrong time — it usually is," Puma skipper Ken Read wrote in his online update yesterday. “I hope for our sake it is as simple as that because our spare mast is identical and we have to find the weak link so we can be sure this doesn’t happen again."
Click play to watch Read’s report from Mar Mostro after the dismasting.
A container ship today was diverted to transfer diesel fuel to Puma's Volvo Open 70 Mar Mostro (Italian for sea monster). The yacht will then head to the remote volcanic island of Tristan da Cunha, where it will be craned aboard another ship for the passage to Cape Town.
Puma's plan is to install a new mast in Cape Town to compete in the Dec. 10 in-port racing and the next leg to Abu Dhabi, Read reported. The teams score points for each leg and the in-port racing, so Puma and the other teams that retired from the first leg are still in the race.
“Thanks to amazing seamanship, the three pieces of the mast and all of the sails were recovered,” said Read.
Puma is one of six teams in the nine-month circumnavigation. Two other yachts also have retired from the first leg. The current leader is Team Telefonica.
The fleet will stop in Cape Town; Abu Dhabi; Sanya (China); Auckland (New Zealand); Itajaí (Brazil); Miami; Lisbon (Portugal); and Lorient (France) before finishing in Galway (Ireland) in July. The Volvo Ocean Race was formerly the Whitbread Round the World Race.