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PUMA clinch epic victory as Telefónica fall just short

PUMA Ocean Racing powered by BERG leads in the final miles of leg 5 into Itajai ©IAN ROMAN/Volvo Ocean Race
PUMA Ocean Racing powered by BERG leads in the final miles of leg 5 into Itajai ©IAN ROMAN/Volvo Ocean Race

PUMA held firm in the face of a relentless attack from Telefónica to clinch an epic Leg 5 victory on Friday, crossing the finish line in Itajaí, Brazil with a slim winning margin after the Spanish team had threatened to complete one of the greatest sporting comebacks.

After more then 7,500 nautical miles of racing from Auckland, starting with a first-night battering as bad as any in the race’s history and on through brutal conditions in the Southern Ocean and around Cape Horn, PUMA’s Mar Mostro crossed the Itajaí finish in brilliant sunshine at 16:09:51 local time (19:09:51 UTC) to take their first victory of the 2011-12 edition. Telefónica crossed the finish line at 16:22:29 local.

It was an extraordinary finish to the battle for first place in a leg that saw five of the six boats forced to stop for repairs.

Telefónica were 400 nm behind the leaders when they resumed racing following a pit stop to work on structural damage to their boat. They quickly began to reduce that gap and when Groupama were forced out following a dismasting they were suddenly in a two-way battle for first.

PUMA Ocean Racing powered by BERG score 30 points for their win, taking their total to 113 points. It means they are just 34 points behind overall leaders Team Telefónica, despite having been forced to retire from Leg 1 because of a broken mast.

A mix of emotions from elation and relief was evident on the faces of the 11 crew on board PUMA as they celebrated their victory.


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