The Puma boat of the United States gambled with a northern route in the Volvo Ocean Race on Saturday, seeking better wind and cutting its deficit from 250 nautical miles to 180.

While the other boats crawled upwind at 11-15 knots, Puma was speeding with the wind at 22 knots.

Telefonica of Spain won the first three offshore legs and was sailing safely in the main pack in leg four.

Puma, tied for fourth and needing points after breaking its mast on leg one, sailed toward Tokyo – the opposite direction of the leg-four finish in Auckland, New Zealand.

Other teams waited for the weather to come and push them south, but Puma was well to the north and actively seeking out the wind.

This is a long-term strategy, not a short-term one," Puma skipper Ken Read said in an interview from the boat. "If we get close to the fleet on the remainder of this leg, we'll know we've failed … We'll do an arc and hopefully go around them."

Spain-New Zealand team Camper, in second place overall, is the leader on the current leg with a small advantage over the main group. Puma finished second in the last Volvo Ocean Race in 2008-09.

Leg four should finish around March 10 in Auckland. The race ends in July in Galway, Ireland.

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