After months of high winds and huge waves, Puma skipper Ken Read and his crew are facing flat, calm Atlantic conditions on Sunday that could ruin a triumphant return home to the United States next week in the Volvo Ocean Race.
The 50-year-old Read, who is from Newport, R.I., is the in-form skipper after guiding Puma to victory through the Southern ocean in Leg 5 from Auckland to Itajai, Brazil.
He has followed up with a near flawless job at the helm so far in the next stage, leading almost from the start in the 4,800-nautical mile trip to Miami through more benign conditions in the Atlantic.
With little more than 600 miles left, Puma's 30-mile lead from Spanish/New Zealand entry Camper and Spanish overall leader Telefonica is threatened by near windless conditions of just seven knots as it passes through the Caribbean and into the final stretch.
Navigator Tom Addis fears the rest of the fleet could catch up while Puma is stalled by the lack of breeze.
"When the wind goes light and you compress, especially for a good solid day, anything can happen," he said. "If someone gets a squall and picks up some wind for a few hours that could easily turn the fleet inside out. That makes things more tense on board, no question."
The fleet is due to arrive in Miami on Wednesday but that could change if the wind doesn't pick up.
The nine-month, 39,000-mile race _ which visits 10 countries, five continents and four oceans _ is scheduled to finish July 7 in Galway, Ireland.
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