Camper doubles her lead in the Auckland - Fiji Race + Camper report

Camper on the charge at the start of the 2011 Auckland-Musket Cove, Fiji Race
Ivor Wilkins

The Volvo Ocean race entry, Camper, sailed by Emirates Team NZ has doubled her lead overnight in the Auckland-Musket Cove, Fiji Race.

After Camper managed to latch on to a breeze which dragged her through the night, out to the east, TeamVodafoneSailing, the ORMA60 skippered by Simon Hull languished in low speed winds and her speed was at times down to five kts or less.

Her plight can be seen in the tracking diagram, where the distance between the checkpoints compresses markedly and her course wavers as she tries to extract the most from the light wind.

TeamVodafoneSailing’s track visibly slows over the past 12 hours - shot taken at 0800hrs 7 June 2011 - Auckland Musket Cove, Fiji Race

Camper is proving the adage that often the rhumb line course, being the shortest is best.

That is also holding true for the Bakewell-White 52fter, Wired (Rob Bassett) who is now clearly in second place and is holding a lead of almost 44nm over the 60ft trimaran. and is only 63nm behind the Volvo Ocean race entry - which is almost 20ft longer.

That point is reflected in the routing tracks from Predictwind, which call for Camper to straighten up and just head straight for Musket Cove.

TVS is advised, the routing function of Predictwind, to cut her losses, get over to Camper's part of the Pacific Ocean and then head for Fiji.www.predictwind.com!Predictwind is the wind prediction and course routing software developed by NZer Jon Bilger and used for two America's Cup winning programs, and is now available on a free and subscription basis.

While Camper did make good going overnight, her progress is expected to slow until mid-day tomorrow or noon, when she will pick up to double digit speeds for the last stretch of the 1140nm race.

RNZYS - Yellowbrick positions as of 0800hrs 7 June 2011 - Auckland Musket Cove, Fiji Race. Camper is the pink yacht on the rhunbline, Wired is the green one astern of her, and TVS is the purple boat to the right.

TVS, provided she cuts her losses, and the unstable weather systems start behaving in a more predictable fashion, should pick up speed considerably around 1100hrs on 8 June and then have a fast ride in the SE trades to Fiji.

The projections are that TVS will still be first to finish, but only by six hours or so.

If the 'progress' of the 60ft trimaran remains the same as it has for the last 24 hours, and Camper continues to extend her lead, then clearly prospects of a race win for TeamVodafoneSailing will slip away as the catchup task gets too hard, with too little runway left in which to make her charge for the finish.

Predictwind’s route options for Camper as of 0800hrs on 7 June 2011 - Auckland Musket Cove, Fiji Race. The faint tracks to the right are the Predictwind recommendation for TVS, telling her to get into the same part of the ocean as Camper, and then head for Fiji.

Computer weather predictions for several days before the race, and during the early stages of the race, showed that an easterly course was the optimum route for Fiji. However the rapid movement of pressure systems, both high and low over New Zealand without really having much impact to the north, except for producing light winds, have confounded the predictions. Once the commitment was made to move away from the rhumbline then the die was cast for TVS.

Camper on the other hand has kept an eye on the east, but also stayed mindful of the need to sail the shortest distance to Fiji, and the conservatism has paid, as so often happens in fast moving weather systems.

On board Camper - Day 2 Auckland-Fiji Race

Navigator Will Oxley reports from CAMPER as dawn breaks on Day 2 of Auckland-Musket Cove race.

07/06/11. 0730 hours 30 14S 176 30E WNW wind 7 knots. Heading north.

Dawn breaks over CAMPER with Emirates Team New Zealand with clear skies, and a barometer rising ever so slowly but surely as we approach the high pressure and lighter winds. Our massive masthead zero sail is earning its money as our boat speed continues to exceed wind speed by an impressive amount.

The grib files, supported by satellite pictures, show that we are on the SE side of a diffuse high pressure system. The grib shows a nice left hand shift as we sail into the eastern side of the high then a gybe on to starboard in south winds then a gradual build and continuing left shift till we get to the desired 'south-east trades' direction. All this happens over the next 24 hours.

If only it ends up being this easy. Doubtful, I’d say, and we expect the next 24 hours to be the most 'difficult' part of the race. We just need to avoid a complete park up and continue to try to wriggle our way through. With four equatorial crossings in the next Volvo Race this is all good practice for us.

On board Camper - Day 2 Auckland-Fiji Race

Our main competition, Vodafone, has continued on their north-east route. They look to have had some light winds and they are now 102nm further from the finish than us.

I think we need about a 160nm lead when Vodafone enters the trades to hold them off for the last 36 hours. So, even though 105 looks like a good lead, having raced against the Orma 60 tris in the Atlantic it’s still not enough!

Temperatures are still rising, especially below and as the only person from the tropics on board, I am especially happy about this. I have peeled off another layer of thermals while some are nearly down to shorts and t-shirt already.

Hopefully we will have some good news to report tomorrow morning if all goes well with the light winds today.

Predictwind’s route options for TeamVodafoneSailing as of 0800hrs on 7 June 2011 - Auckland Musket Cove, Fiji Race

Progress can be viewed on the Vodafone Play website http://forecast.predictwind.com/tracking/display/TeamVodafone?fullscreen!click_here to go straight to the full screen version. If you are using on an iPhone, please tilt the device horizontally to get the ideal view of both screens. You can wind back the display to follow her progress on the map and accompanying time-lapse pictures as she starts, and then exits the Hauraki Gulf. Now TVS has left 3G coverage only her boat position and actual speed is shown on the display.

Or, you can follow the whole fleet on the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron website www.rnzys.org.nz or http://live.adventuretracking.com/aucklandtofiji2011!click_here to go straight to the Yellowbrick tracker and zoom in to see the individual race yacht's positions updated every 20 minutes.