Ken Read – Checking in with the cat

Published on August 30th, 2010

kr(August 30, 2010) Skipper Ken Read and the PUMA Ocean Racing team announced in April that the team would be returning for the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-2012 after placing second overall in the 2008-2009 event. Scuttlebutt checked in with Kenny for an update on their progress:


What can you tell us about your boat?

New England Boat Works (NEB) in Portsmouth, Rhode Island is building the yacht in conjunction with Brandon Lyons. Brandon and his team were in charge of the il mostro build when we used the Goetz yard for the last race. Integration of both build teams has been going on for a few weeks now and the mold for the deck has been started. Not only will they do a great job but I thought the local economy could use a boost unlike a Senator from Massachusetts!

Launch date varies on both the complexity of the design as well as the completion of science projects that are ongoing with (designer) Juan K’s office. The launch and initial trials will be in Newport, which we presume to begin sometime around May or June 2011.

How about the mast and other gear?

The first new mast is being built here in Rhode Island at Hall Spars and designed by Scott Ferguson. We worked hard to get Scott involved as he is at the top of his game right now. He was comfortable with Hall. We also really needed to get a mast done as quickly as possible and the Hall Rhode Island complex is literally right down the road from us and I have worked with them quite a bit over the past 20 years. Scott was the designer of the Telefonica rigs for the last race which were quite a departure from past mast configurations and he was integral in the BMW Oracle wing sail project for the 33rd America’s Cup last February.

The sails are being built by North and designed by Steve Calder. As you saw in the last race when North was on every boat in the fleet, they are the obvious choice when it comes to speed and durability. Past experience with Steve was a huge factor- plus it doesn’t hurt that he and Tony Mutter worked together on the Ericsson program.

Our winch package is Harken. They did a great job for us last race, and I am sure they will again for this one. Our rope package is done by Gleistein Ropes- amazing products and part of our team for four years now.

There are only five declared entries. You expected 9 or 10. Will there be any more entries?

I believe that Telefonica will also enter Tele Blue from the last race so that adds up to six scheduled boats to hit the starting line right now. We get lots of calls from prospective programs that want to take il mostro around the track again. The Volvo office still thinks 10 entries so we shall see. I certainly hope that we have 8-10 as that is the number that VOR has promised us since we signed up.

How about an update regarding the PUMA crew plan?

Besides myself we have Casey Smith and Michi Mueller from PUMA; Brad Jackson, Ryan Godfrey and Tony Mutter from Ericsson 4; Tom Addis and Jono Swain from Telefonica Blue; and Andrew Lewis from ABN Amro 2. Depth at all positions and past experience has won out when comparing all the fantastic resumes that we have received.

As far as crew rotation goes, we will take that as it comes. A lot was made of this issue in the last race and I think it really isn’t a big issue. For example, the only way we could get Jerry Kirby involved last time was to work within his schedule as he has a pretty big construction company here in Rhode Island that he can’t ignore. So from the start there was going to be some sort of crew rotation last time. So far we haven’t had to work around any issues like that, but I am sure we will have to eventually.

Will the 2011-12 race route affect boat design compared to the 2008-9 route?

Yes, quite a bit. It is a very complex process that produces the final hull shape for this race. VPP’s, weather routing, structural analysis, CFD and simply a bit of common sense are all in play when deciding what boat will produce a great “all-arounder”. As with most Around the World races, this one is going to have a bit of everything and every dog will have its day.

What is your tentative training schedule between now and the start?

We are planning a minimum of four months training with the new boat and a maximum of six months, all next summer. We really have to play this as it comes, as it depends on the completion of the build. Last time we pushed the build really hard in order to get the boat on the water as soon as we could. These decisions are still happening so we aren’t quite there yet.



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