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'CHEMISTRY IS MANDATORY IN THIS RACE'

Juli 29, 2009 @ 16:19:59   Foto Rick Deppe/PUMA Ocean Racing/Volvo Ocean Race

PUMA Ocean Racing skipper Ken Read leading the fleet at the start of leg 10

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FROM THE COCKPIT


The Volvo Ocean Race has been, quite simply, the experience of a lifetime. When you embark with an idea of competing in a race like this, you have to get lucky.

I feel like I have been the luckiest person on earth. I found PUMA, the ultimate sponsor, who quickly became a partner, and a huge new group of friends.

Building a small business like PUMA Ocean Racing was a ton of fun, and wouldn’t have happened without Kimo Worthington. I can’t thank him enough for taking the leap with me when we were just an idea. He helped turn the idea into a reality. My family, Kathy and Tory, have been a huge pillar to lean on.

They helped pick me up in the down times and celebrated with me during the highlights. They embraced this race and the adventure it created for our family and we are closer now than ever before. Oh, and we also sailed a race. A very long and arduous race.

I learned a lot about myself. We made some mistakes. We made some very good decisions. And second overall for a brand new team like this is something I will be very proud of for the rest of my life. I do wonder a few things, and will probably never have the real answers for them.

Why did we perform so much better when under the gun? Broken boom, broken frames, broken rudder, broken sails. Sure, we all suffer from more or less the same problems on the water, but this team and programme thrived on adversity. When the chips were down, we were at our best.

I will always be proud and a bit perplexed by this fact. It took a while for an ‘all-star team’ of sailors to gel. I learned that putting an all-star team together is not enough.

These boats are hard on interpersonal relationships. The onboard conditions can bring out the best and the worst in people. It is simply a fact of life, and, in the beginning, we had a bunch of very, very talented individuals on board. But talent is not enough – chemistry is mandatory on a race like this.

Our goal of substantial crew rotation allowed us to keep tweaking the mix, and clearly in the end, our results showed that we accomplished our mission. Decisions had to be made for a variety of reasons, and never because someone was not good enough to be onboard.

We lost Chris Nicholson early on, who was instrumental in the design concept with Botin/Carkeek, to a knee injury. From there it was a learning process that, for some reason, some people worked better in our surroundings than others and it really is that simple.

The problem is, a late single boat programme has a hard time putting enough time into a boat, crew work and crew relationships prior to a race starting. A late single boat programme has to use the race to get up to speed both physically and mentally. We got up to speed, just a bit too late.

But still early enough to produce a result that we will all be very proud of. Although we came close, we didn’t achieve total victory. But, you know what? I have never been happier with a second place in my life.

Thanks to all at PUMA Ocean Racing for your support, hard work and dedication. And to all at Volvo for putting on this amazing contest. I know I will never be the same because of it.



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