April 29, 2012

MIAMI (AP) -- American boat Puma is holding on to a slim lead Sunday as the Volvo Ocean Race fleet heads for Miami on the 4,800-nautical mile sixth leg of the nine-stage event.

Captained by 50-year-old Ken Read, Puma is hoping to build on its victory in the difficult fifth leg from New Zealand to Brazil earlier this month. That stage left five of the six-strong fleet needing repairs while the wily Read steered a pristine Puma through to a memorable win.

The current leg features calmer and mostly downwind, fast sailing conditions but Read is struggling to shake off overall race leader Telefonica and joint Spanish/New Zealand entry Camper after gaining the early advantage.

The pair was around 14 nautical miles behind early Sunday with about 3,000nm of the leg still to sail.

"I can't get used to it after leg 5," said Read, who is taking part in his last Volvo Ocean Race. "No thrashing, bashing, soaking, freezing, boiling, upwind hate mission. Maybe I am dreaming. So I pinch myself and sure enough this is reality. And we are doing all right as well."

In the overall standings, Telefonica has 149 points and leads Groupama on 133, Camper (124) and fourth-place Puma (117). Abu Dhabi with 56 points and Team Sanya (25) complete the six-boat fleet.

The 39,000-nautical mile race is scheduled to finish in the first week of July in Galway, Ireland.

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