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Kenny Speaks Page 2

Little-known fact: Puma's store in Boston, the U.S. stopover for the 2008-09 Volvo Ocean Race, is now the sports apparel maker's hottest store.I got that small but meaningful tidbit out of a sit-down with Puma Ocean Racing skipper Ken Read on the final day of competition at Les Voile de St. Barth, where Read spent the week aboard David George's winning maxi sloop, Rambler. With Puma

What are the logistics of a one-boat campaign?

"It's different from a two-boat deal, where you're figuring out how to play leapfrog to make both boats faster. With one boat it's a different mentality, different training, different design schedule, and we're having the internal debates right now. If the designers had their way we'd put the boat in the water four and a half minutes before the start of the race. If the sailors had their way the boat would be in the water three years before the race."

And the designers will be?

"We're working with a design group. That will be announced in about two weeks; people who have a good track record."Americans?

"Not Americans, no."

Any chance of a second U.S. entry?

"I haven’t heard of any. But there's a good chance of ten boats, and some America's Cup teams might jump in."

The Kiwis?

"I don't want to steal anyone's thunder, but we all hear the same rumors."

Will you go with the same group the whole way?

"With our new core group, we're feeling each other out on questions like that. The chemistry is the thing. On a boat like Rambler you hire 25 guys and throw them together for a week at Les Voiles de St. Barth and everybody gets along. Throw them together for nine months of being freezing cold, boiling hot, soaked to the skin, without enough food, and you see the best and the worst in all of us. If I've learned anything it's to spend more time before the race getting the chemistry right, so when the shit inevitably hits the fan you're prepared. Everybody can do the job physically, but then it becomes mental."

And now you're required to have three under-thirty's.

"We were lucky to have three under-thirties in our last group, and only one of those graduated. So we have two that are probably coming back, Shannon Falcone and Michi Mueller, the big German bowman. I've been sailing on Rambler with Andrew Lewis, and he's a probable too."

Should the media person be part of the crew?

"No, definitely not. Two races back I did the last four legs on Ericcson, and the media guys were sailors, and it was exhausting. Ericsson had two guys doing it—by rule you had to send a certain amount of footage each day—and they would literally just grab a camera, punch some buttons and send in whatever. Shockingly enough, the footage wasn't very good. This last time around it was quite a bit more professional, and the plan is for media people to get a lot of training this time and raise the level a notch. With us, whether they get trained by Volvo or trained in-house, it will be a professional effort."

Will Rick Deppe be back?

"Can't say. Since Ricky became famous and won the America's Cup with Oracle, I don't know if he's taking my calls anymore."

Kimball Livingston's blog The Blue Planet Timescovers the issues, people and events of sailing, especially, and anything related to boats, the oceans, and the marine environment.

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