Friday, September 26, 2008

The countdown is on...

Dave Kneale/Volvo Ocean Race

The first points of this year’s race are still 10 days away from being won, but PUMA Ocean Racing will be ready for action in two.

Ken Read’s team is yet to put their sail collection against the measurer’s yard-stick, but, barring a handful of other minor alterations, they are in race shape.

Shore manager Neil Cox said: “We have sailing tomorrow that will change things a bit, but we have all the materials in place so we think that by Friday night we will be able to let the measurers go through it all and see that we have done everything we said we would do.”

“The sails need to be measured, but that’s about it. All the sails that are on the loft floor will be laid out and measured: everything from the mid-girths and all the other aspects of sail making.

“The actual boat itself, with the Ts that you have to cross and the Is you have to dot, is pretty much done.”

“From then on, we can just concentrate on sailing and preparing for the in-port race.”

It is the culmination of an eight-month shore operation to prepare a boat capable of conquering a 37,000-nautical mile race track.

Kimo Worthington, the team’s general manager, said the project has run to schedule.

“We laid this all out and things have gone to plan,” he said. “We are almost in race mode where we can concentrate on sailing and getting ready for the in-port race (on October 4).”

Cox explained that the set-up of the boat for the in-port race and the first offshore leg to Cape Town would only go through minor changes.

He said: “The actual configuration of the boat is just the same except for a couple floating jammers and stuff to help control sails coming up and down at the mark. Other than that the boat is pretty much as you take them offshore.”