Volvo Ocean Race: Camper 24 hours out from the finish in Itajai

Sunshine draws a crowd on deck, onboard CAMPER with Emirates Team New Zealand during leg 5 of the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12, from Auckland, New Zealand to Itajai, Brazil.
Hamish Hooper/Camper ETNZ/Volvo Ocean Race©

The end of Leg 5 was in sight for the crew of Camper on Monday as they approached with just over 24 hours until the finish.

But despite the high spirits, buoyed by thoughts of an end to almost a month of ocean racing, one final challenge was playing on their minds -- the windless zone off the coast of Itajaí that has so far snared all of the Leg 5 finishers.

'The reality is there is a painful big windless hole we could end up parked in for a few hours merely 20 miles from Itajaí,' Camper with Emirates Team New Zealand’s media crew member Hamish Hooper said.

'This will be a cruel and painful way to end the leg, so we are hoping like anything it doesn’t eventuate and the breeze will carry us all the way there. I am remaining optimistic this will be the case.

Rob Salthouse and Chris Nicholson adding support during the water maker repairs onboard CAMPER with Emirates Team New Zealand during leg 5 of the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12, from Auckland, New Zealand to Itajai, Brazil. (Credit: Hamish Hooper/CAMPER ETNZ/Volvo Ocean Race)
Hamish Hooper/Camper ETNZ/Volvo Ocean Race©
'Hopefully it wont be too much more than 24 hours and we will be pulling quietly into the dock, in the early hours of the 30th day of the leg.'

For the meantime speeds have been consistently high on Camper as they clock off the remaining 260 miles.

'We have been easing along again at between 14 and 20 knots of boat speed,' Hooper added.

'We have put in about four gybes to keep us in good pressure and better current, and all of the guys seemed to relish the chance to manoeuvre the boat.'

Hooper said that although they will have sailed almost 3,000 nautical miles further than their rivals by the time they finish the leg, the crew were determined to rejoin the fleet for the DHL In-Port Race Itajaí on April 21 at full strength.

'As we come toward the end of this leg there is a real sense of steely resolve on board,' he said.

'Yes we are tired, we barely won’t have time off, we will be pushed for time to get ready for the in port race and the next leg, but if we can do what we have done in this past month then there is no reason we cant do what it takes to win the in-port race, the next leg into Miami and the whole race.

'It has been hard, real hard, but it has been good for the team.

Another social gathering on deck onboard CAMPER with Emirates Team New Zealand during leg 5 of the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12, from Auckland, New Zealand to Itajai, Brazil. (Credit: Hamish Hooper/CAMPER ETNZ/Volvo Ocean Race)
Hamish Hooper/Camper ETNZ/Volvo Ocean Race©
'Doing what we did was the hardest most taxing option on the team, but in the end I think the most positive.

'You can now also see that after close to three weeks of delivering the boat, all of the guys are just chomping at the bit to get racing with other boats again.

'One day off will be plenty to recharge the batteries and ignite the fire in their bellies again.'

Camper’s current ETA is 1200 UTC on Tuesday, April 17 or in the early hours of Wednesday morning 18 April, NZT.

Hamish Hooper blogs from on board Camper

Right now there are 357 miles to go to Itajai- I am expecting- well, hoping this to be a lot less by the time I wake up in the morning…

It still seems like a lot of miles to go, but when comparing it to the close to 9000 miles we will have ended up sailing this entire leg, it suddenly doesn’t seem like too much to go at all.

Hopefully it won’t be too much more than 24 hours and we will be pulling quietly into the dock, in the early hours of the 30th day of the leg.

I am remaining optimistic this will be the case, but the reality is there is a painful big windless hole we could end up parked in for a few hours merely 20 miles from Itajai.

All eyes on the gybe onboard CAMPER with Emirates Team New Zealand during leg 5 of the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12, from Auckland, New Zealand to Itajai, Brazil. (Credit: Hamish Hooper/CAMPER ETNZ/Volvo Ocean Race)
Hamish Hooper/Camper ETNZ/Volvo Ocean Race©
This will be a cruel and painful way to end the leg, so we are hoping like anything it doesn’t eventuate and the breeze will carry us all the way there.

It’s been a good day for miles though; we have been easing along again at between 14 -20 knots boat speed, we have put in about 4 gybes to keep us in good pressure and better current, which all of the guys seemed to relish the chance to maneuver the boat.

Since leaving Puerto Montt a few of the guys have been showing off a little bit- trying to display their intelligence by playing Sudoku. There is nothing that more obviously says, ‘Hey look how intelligent I am’ than playing with numbers in your spare time for ‘fun’.

I sort of reluctantly decided to give it a go after a brief lesson with Mike and Salty. After 1 failed practice I managed to complete my first Sudoku with no real feeling of achievement. In the end it gave me a headache and bought back pretty bad memories of underachieving math’s results at high school. My lowest exam mark ever was in maths… the teacher couldn’t have liked me.

Daryl Wislang driving onboard CAMPER with Emirates Team New Zealand during leg 5 of the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12, from Auckland, New Zealand to Itajai, Brazil. (Credit: Hamish Hooper/CAMPER ETNZ/Volvo Ocean Race)
Hamish Hooper/Camper ETNZ/Volvo Ocean Race©
I preferred to head up on deck to chat with Animal, Daryl and Trae on watch about, well…just stuff. It was pretty funny talking about just stuff though. Trae was having trouble driving the boat he was laughing so hard. It’s a good thing his ribs aren’t troubling him any more.

But on a more serious note as we come toward the end of this leg there is a real sense of steely resolve onboard. Yes we are tired, we barely won’t have time off, we will be pushed for time to get ready for the in port race and the next leg, but if we can do what we have done in this past month then there is no reason we cant do what it takes to win the in port race, the next leg into Miami and the whole race.

It has been hard, real hard, but it has been good for the team.

Doing what we did was the hardest most taxing option on the team, but in the end I think the most positive.

You can now also see that after close to three weeks of delivering the boat, all of the guys are just chomping at the bit to get racing with other boats again.

Mike Pammenter playing sudoku onboard CAMPER with Emirates Team New Zealand during leg 5 of the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12, from Auckland, New Zealand to Itajai, Brazil. (Credit: Hamish Hooper/CAMPER ETNZ/Volvo Ocean Race)
Hamish Hooper/Camper ETNZ/Volvo Ocean Race©

The crew shift the stack prior to a gybe onboard CAMPER with Emirates Team New Zealand during leg 5 of the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12, from Auckland, New Zealand to Itajai, Brazil. (Credit: Hamish Hooper/CAMPER ETNZ/Volvo Ocean Race)
Hamish Hooper/Camper ETNZ/Volvo Ocean Race©