PUMA Ocean Racing are heading for an experience they could never have envisaged at the start of the race when they return to dry land for an enforced mini-break among the world’s most isolated community.
They say Volvo Ocean Race sailors should be prepared for anything and Ken Read and his crew on board PUMA’s Mar Mostro are going into their unexpected sojourn at the British Overseas Territory of Tristan da Cunha determined to make the best of it.
They are due to arrive on Saturday, three weeks after leaving Alicante and five days since they broke their mast in three places, wrecking their hopes of any points from Leg 1 and setting them out on a race against time for the second in-port race on December 10 in and the start of Leg 2 the following day.
While the shore crew celebrated Thanksgiving with a somewhat muted dinner in Cape Town on Thursday (see pictures), Read and the rest of PUMA Ocean Racing powered by BERG were still 36 hours away from dry land and reading through a long list of encouraging emails from friends, well-wishers and even Tristan da Cunha locals.
“We are really starting to look forward to our island visit,” Read wrote. “We have been getting fantastic emails all day from friends telling us fun facts about Tristan. This was started by my daughter Tory several days ago and the aura of Tristan island is only growing in our minds.”
The word remote does not do justice to Tristan da Cunha. The volcanic island the team will come to is seven miles wide and Cape Town, the nearest city, is over 1,750 miles away. The population of the only settlement, Edinburgh of the Seven Seas, is 262 and there are only two employers on the island – the Government and the fish factory.
The population will be posted by 5 percent when the 11-man team come ashore to wait for a ship that finally left Durban for Cape Town on Friday and will head on to Tristan da Cunha to pick them up and take them back to South Africa.
Tristan’s Island Administrator Sean Burns said a warm welcome was in store for the team, who can expect to be there for several days. To listen to Mr Burns chatting with volvooceanrace.com click HERE.
“We’re all looking forward to seeing them,” Burns said. “We have been following the stories of the Volvo Ocean Race and we are looking forward to welcoming them ashore.
“It doesn’t matter how many days they have been at sea without a proper wash — they will be well looked after.”
More than 80 per cent of the island’s revenue comes from the wealth of lobster that are found in the nearby waters.
With few visitors to the island there’s little need for hotels, so the PUMA crew will be welcomed into the homes of the local community while they wait for their ride home.
“I’m sure the sailors will be looking forward to a few days’ rest and some decent food,” Burns added. “We have plenty of lamb, beef and an abundance of fish – they will get all of that.”
With no harbour in Tristan, just a breakwater, the PUMA crew could face a logistical challenge just trying to get ashore.
“We will aim to get them ashore as soon as possible but it depends on the weather,” Burns said. “We have a breakwater here rather than a harbour so it can be quite challenging at times. Fingers crossed the weather is kind to us.”
Once the ship from Durban reaches Tristan, Mar Mostro will be craned on board and shipped to Cape Town where work will begin stepping a replacement mast.
But until then the PUMA sailors can enjoy life in the furthest outpost of the British empire.
“Island life is great – it is a unique place,” Mr Burns said. “Islanders live off the land and the sea. We love it.”