Chris Cameron /

Victory to Camper in front of home crowd

Great moment for Chris Nicholson's team and Kiwi fans in the Volvo Ocean Race's Auckland In Port

Saturday March 17th 2012, Author: James Boyd, Location: New Zealand

The Emirates Team New Zealand powered Camper succeeded in achieving their first win in the 2011-12 Volvo Ocean Race in front of a home crowd when they stormed to victory in 15-20 knot easterly during the Auckland In-Port Race.

Having this week spent much time practicing on Waitemata Harbour under the tutelage of Joey Allen and Rod Davis, Camper got off to a good start, not first across the line, but closest to the committee boat and from there dominated the race. They made the most of heading right in towards the harbour wall of the commercial port away from the strongest current, tacking out at the very last moment allowing them to make the crucial first cross ahead of Puma, which had been ahead at the start.

At the first mark Camper held a 130m lead, pushing hard downwind under the Auckland Harbour bridge to the light conditions that awaited the fleet at the bottom mark. After heading back under the Harbour Bridge, Camper slowly extended and the fleet left to battle it out for the remaining places.

The Kiwi team speed home to the finish line beating Puma by 54 second to enthusiastic cheers from the huge spectator fleet.

With Groupama taking third after they were rolled by Puma, Team Sanya also put in a strong performance, helmed by local skipper Mike Sanderson to finish fourth. Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing came home in fifth after a late Kiwi drop at the leeward mark took a while to sort out while overall race leaders Team Telefónica got off to a poor start and never seemed to be in contention.

Tens of thousands of people lined Auckland’s shoreline and packed hundreds of spectator boats to watch the first Volvo Ocean Race action to be held in Auckland in 10 years – and a win for the Spanish-sponsored home team made the day all the more special.

"The one thing we said all week was was how do we thank everyone who has helped and supported us," said Camper skipper Chris Nicholson. "I hope that this goes a little way to doing that. It has been a huge week of support for us and it has helped.

"It did go according to plan. But thing is, this was the plan we worked on in Sanya. We were able to bring Joe and Rod up, our coaches who helped us get our head back in the game. We didn’t prove it then that it was the right thing to do, but I hope today we have proved that we got our comms better and we did practice start after practice stuff and we did enough that the right one stuck at start time. I am really happy with the guys. We did a really nice day. We had good tacks and the guys were into it, in our grinding and our whole effort today – it was something to be very proud of.

"We have been after this for a long time – now we will flick the switch and we want this on the next leg."

Tony Rey also added that the training had been vital. "It was a picture perfect day for us. We have been training a lot and going through a lot of starting procedures with Joe and Rod and it was great to pull it off today. We couldn’t have asked for a better start from Nicko – at pace and going the right way and then once you get out in front on a course like this you just have to consolidate and we knew which way around the track we wanted to go. So it was great to have a win with all of our supporters here.

"It gives us a lot more points, which is the most important thing for us to start clawing our way back up to the top but it is a great boost for us going into the next leg. Dalts will be a lot more happy with us today, so that wil keep him off our back for a little back. Thanks to Auckland for such fantastic support."

This win puts Camper back to within 18 points of the leaders.

"We were very happy with how we squeezed by Groupama there," commented Puma skipper Ken Read. "Congratulations to the Camper guys – they sailed very well and deserved to win. It was tight quarters and the tide relief up the right hand shoreline that Camper got first - they got the first cross and that was the race."

Groupama moved to within 15 points of the overall leaders scoring four points today. “Third is not so bad,” said Cammas. “We had a problem with the keel which lost us the 20-second advantage which we had over Puma and Puma took advantage well to overtake us. But apart from that we are happy with the race.”

For Team Sanya it was their best result since the Iberdrola In-Port Race in Alicante. “That was awesome,” said Sanya skipper Mike Sanderson. “We’re just so stoked to be in the race but that was one step better because we had a couple of boats behind us.”

Bringing up the rear, uncharacteristically, Telefónica's skipper Iker Martinez said: “We had a pretty bad race. We didn’t sail well, so it was a headache for us. It was pretty difficult. We didn’t have much room to play with out there."

Tomorrow the Volvo Ocean Race leg five sets sail from Auckland on a 6700 mile leg through the Southern Ocean, around Cape Horn and up to Itajaí, Brazil. The Leg 5 start will be broadcast live from 1400 local time (0100 UTC) on Sunday. The leg should take the fleet around 17 days to complete.

Watch the video from the Auckland In-Port race here

Auckland In-Port Race results:

Camper with Emirates Team New Zealand (60min 38sec) 6pts
Puma Ocean Racing powered by Berg (+0:54) 5pts
Groupama sailing team (+1:26) 4pts
Team Sanya (+2:20) 3pts
Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing (+2:52) 2 pts
Team Telefónica (+3:27) 1 pts

Overall points:

Pos Alicante Leg 1 Cape Town Leg 2 Abu Dhabi Leg 3 Sanya Leg 4 Auckland Tot
  In port   In port   In port   In port   In port  
Telefonica 1 30 6 29 2 27 6 20 1 122
Groupama 2 20 2 18 5 24 2 30 4 107
Camper 4 25 5 24 4 18 3 15 6 104
Puma 5 0 4 19 3 17 5 25 5 83
Abu Dhabi 6 0 3 10 6 14 4 10 2 55
Team Sanya 3 0 1 5 2 5 1 5 3 25

From Chris Cameron/Camper ETNZ

 From Ian Roman/Volvo Ocean Race:



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