THE MONSTER RETURNS
PUMA skipper Ken Read has praised the 'miracle' workers in his shore crew for getting il mostro ready for Saturday's in-port race.
The team emerged from the epic battles against the elements of leg four in second place on January 29, but the result came at a cost with their boom breaking and damage to their longitudinal carbon fibre stringers.
It left Neil Cox and his 11-strong team a window of just nine days before the in-port race, but today they became the first boat back on the water.
"This was always going to be a tough stopover for us, with really only a week between the leg finish and the in-port race," Read said. "After the extremely tough leg we just had here from Singapore, it's been even harder to get ourselves ready for this weekend."
The situation was not helped by the weather.
Read added: "As average temperatures here in Qingdao have been below five degrees, it's a tough place to work on a boat. But, as always, our shore team have performed miracles."
The latest stage in the team's rehabilitation was Tuesday's arrival of the boom and now Read is eyeing up some practice time on the water.
"Our boat builders have been working hard to clean up a few things inside the boat, we were lifted into the water today (Wednesday) and even hope to get out for a training sail tomorrow and Friday," he said. "We're ramped up and ready to go."
Among those fired up is Jerry Kirby, the evergreen bowman who returns to the team's ranks.
"I'm excited to get back on the boat," he said. "We feel very optimistic. We would like to win a leg, we have done just about everything but that so it would nice to get something."
Elsewhere, Telefonica Blue is due to go in the water this evening, while Ericsson 4 is scheduled to follow on Thursday morning. Green Dragon is hoping to be in the water Thursday evening as well.