Photo: Marc Bow / Volvo Ocean Race

Camper - home in third

The Emirates Team New Zealand crew did well to claw their way back up from fifth

Saturday February 4th 2012, Author: James Boyd, Location: China

Camper did well to come home in third place on this leg of the Volvo Ocean Race, crossing the Sanya finish line at 07:28:24 UTC.

The Emirates Team NZ crew on board led by Australian Chris Nicholson suffered the biggest highs and lows in their run from Male to Sanya, at one point leading on the approach to the entrance to Malacca Strait until they were rolled by Telefonica, only to plummet to fifth place as they were becalmed once into the Strait.

"We got on the wrong side of a thunderstorm in Malacca Strait and the other guys went to the Indonesian shore line and we couldn’t get there. That was pretty much the ball game there and then," recalled Chris Nicholson of the low point of their leg. 

Camper's third place adds 18 to their score leaving them still comfortably in second place overall, 11 points ahead of Groupama, but now trailing Telefonica by 13.

“We thought and expected to do better than third to be honest but it’s a difficult race we’re entered into with the best professional teams in the world,” said Nicholson. “We left the Singapore Strait in fifth so we’re happy to have got back to third. One team made a lot of mistakes and the other team we simply sailed past. To finish third is good, it’s a good positive for us to finish on. However there’s still a lot of thought required about how we can start winning legs.”

Co-skipper Stu Bannatyne agreed: "I guess it is still early enough in the overall race that we can’t be disappointed too much with another podium. It is not a disaster and it is disaster legs that will lose you the race at this point. It is very frustrating that we are not doing enough to win a leg but I’m sure our time will come and we are keeping it close enough to keep it right."

Aside from the tactics, the leg was punishing for all the crew. Nicholson recalled: "I didn’t get a lot of sleep this whole leg. You think of areas like the Malacca Strait where it is calm and all pretty good – that is the least amount of sleep you get because there is so many shifts, shipping, et. Then up the Vietnam coast it was a little uncomfortable, if you got some sleep it was with the boat crashing and bashing. This is one of the least amount of sleep legs I’ve ever done."

Bannatyne added: "It was a very challenging leg in so many different ways but certainly physically with such a geographically constrained race course we had a lot of manoeuvres and watch systems went out of the window for periods and lots of tacks, moving the stack from side to side which is always hard work and the negotiation of local fishing fleets at night and dealing with all of that side of it. So mentally and physically very tough."

With six more offshore legs and seven in-port races left, Nicholson acknowledged that more work was needed to be done. “There is still a lot of thought require about how we can start winning legs. We’re able to match the leaders at certain periods of the race and then we kind of let ourselves down occasionally,” he said. “Everyone does it – all the teams do it. I guess I’m a little more conscious of it than most. We just have to keep working on that, go back to the designers, see if there’s anything more in regards to how we’re sailing the boat."


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