This is the third in a series of articles that will follow the Volvo Ocean Race, focusing on its extraordinary aspects that will appeal to an audience unfamiliar with competitive sailing. The nine month race around the planet is the world's toughest sailing competition.
A Troubled Start
When the six teams in the Volvo Ocean Race set out from Alicante, Spain, they all knew they were in for the toughest nine months of their lives. The first leg erased any doubts, when only half of the boats arrived in Cape Town in one piece. Of the three teams that ran into trouble, Puma's challenge was by far the greatest, and most incredible. Things were going well until the mast of the Mar Mostro snapped in three places and crashed to the deck. The boat was 700 miles from the nearest landmass.
Skipper Ken Read was standing on deck with a bowl of food in his hand when a piece of stainless steel supporting the mast broke. The sound of the mast hitting the deck was unmistakable. Once Read had verified that no one on board was injured, he realized how utterly different a challenge the team was now facing- Read called it the start of an "unreal adventure." No longer were they racing to Cape Town. They were in the middle of the southern Atlantic Ocean, and the new priority was making it back to land alive.