Jury-Rigged in the South Atlantic

With 2,500 miles to go in the first leg of the Volvo Ocean Race, PUMA Ocean Racing is dismasted. The crew is safe, but progress is slow.


Rome Kirby driving towards the small island of Tristan in the South Atlantic.Amory Ross

On November 23, PUMA Ocean Racing was forced to retire from the first leg of the Volvo Ocean Race after the boat lost its rig. The team had been battling Telefónica closely in the first half of the leg through the Mediterranean and the Doldrums towards Cape Town.

In his blog, skipper Ken Read writes, "The day started off simply enough. Breeze filling from the northeast, and it was a great ride due south with 20-25 knots of wind and average speeds in the low 20s."

Media crew member Amory Ross writes in his blog, "A few minutes later came a noise like I have never, ever, heard before. You know the sound a tree falling in your back yard makes? Take that, make it twice as loud and twice as quick, and put it directly overhead. The boat violently rolled to weather and I found myself on my back, feet in the air, food bowl still in hand. It was quickly dark inside the boat and someone yelled 'RIG DOWN' through the hatchway. I looked up and out and all I could see was the main. Case closed, mast down."

The rig had broken in three parts, and Read described the recovery by his crew as "awesome" in a video message from mar mostro. The crew salvaged what they could, and bowman Casey Smith dove into the water to free the mainsail from the mast. Read said, "There were some clear heroics from the crew."

The team is now sailing their Volvo Open 70 under with a 15-foot stump of a mast and a jury rig towards the island of Tristan da Cuhna, where the plan is to meet a ship to bring mar mostro to Cape Town for the next in-port race and the next leg to Abu Dhabi.

Read writes, "Will it go exactly as planned? For sure no way. Will it happen? Hell, why not."

Ross writes, "So where do we stand? Emotionally, quite well. Everyone’s safe and healthy and that’s the most important thing. We’re all pretty well bummed, but we’re a team and you find ways to forget about that for the time being and make the most of the present situation."

Video from the Volvo Ocean Race: