Leg 5 in the Volvo Ocean Race Underway as the Fleet Heads into the Southern Ocean

The PUMA Ocean Racing powered by BERG team departed Auckland, New Zealand, on Sunday, March 18, for the start of Leg 5 of the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12. After rounding the buoys during the in-port loop in Auckland, PUMA’s Mar Mostro sailed past Rangitoto Island and began the 6,705 nautical mile journey through the Southern Ocean and on to Itajaí, Brazil.

“I think we’re optimistic,” said skipper Ken Read. “We’re communicating well onboard, we’re sailing the boat a little better, we improved our speed a touch. Hopefully we’re on a roll and can sort of ride the momentum.”

Leg 5 takes the fleet through the formidable Southern Ocean and around Cape Horn with the trip to last around 17 days. Gale-force winds are expected during the first two days, blowing 30-40 knots with big seas.

“The forecast into the Southern Ocean looks like it’s going to be pretty full on for a long period of time,” Read said. “We’re going to have to be respectful of where we’re going, but at the same time we’re in a race. It’s a tough mix. But, there’s not a sailor in this race that is not going to treat this leg with a lot of respect.”

Thomas Johanson (Espoo, Finland) will sail in place of helmsman Kelvin Harrap (Napier, New Zealand) onboard PUMA’s Mar Mostro for the leg from Auckland to Itajaí. Harrap will take a break due to carpal tunnel syndrome in both arms as well as bursitis in his elbow. Johanson sailed as a member of the Ericsson 3 crew during the 2008-09 edition of the race and won the leg through the Southern Ocean.

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