Volvo Ocean Race: Camper bets on the north westerly to close gap

The crew check out sail damage onboard CAMPER with Emirates Team New Zealand during leg 1 of the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12, from Alicante, Spain to Cape Town, South Africa.
Hamish Hooper/Camper ETNZ/Volvo Ocean Race©

Emirates Team NZ expect a predicted strong NW breeze to help them close the gap on the front runners in the Volvo Ocean Race.

On day six of leg one Camper with Emirates Team New Zealand are holding their position with the other westerly boats and are waiting to pick up the expected strong north westerly front.

Camper remains in fourth place but overnight has gained on the two other westerly boats Puma and Telefonica to be 62 miles behind them.

At the front of the fleet Groupama have maintained their separation from the other boats and currently has a 180 mile plus lead over Telefonica, Puma and Camper.

Sail-World's projections show that at the rounding mark, 150nm off the coast of Brazil, Telefonica and Ouma will round first on 17 November, with Camper only two or three hours behind, with Groupama at best 10 hours behind Camper.

However that prognosis has Groupama moving more to the west, which they have been computer-predicted to do all week, but have defied that projection and increased their lead as a result.

Rob Salthouse trimming in the rain onboard CAMPER with Emirates Team New Zealand during leg 1 of the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12, from Alicante, Spain to Cape Town, South Africa. (Credit: Hamish Hooper/CAMPER ETNZ/Volvo Ocean Race)
Hamish Hooper/Camper ETNZ/Volvo Ocean Race©


The projections also rely on a standard Volvo 70 polar, which has been checked against the polar of one of the current boats, but it remains to be seen if on the water one design has an edge over the others in fast sailing conditions.

Skipper Chris Nicholson says that despite Groupama’s strong lead he believes that staying west will pay off.

'The latest weather models are pretty clear that that there is strong north west front due through in about 24 hours. If we can pick that up early then we should be in good shape to capitalise on it and improve our performance.

'Although Groupama are in good pressure at the moment the next 36 hours will be telling for them as they try to get west and into the new breeze. On their current track it looks as though they system they are in at the moment may dry up in the not-to-distant future.

'It remains to be seen who will be proven right but regardless we are now committed to this westerly track and what it will deliver.'

Camper at 1200h 11 November NZT is south of Madeira Island averaging 14 knots in a 12 knot north/north westerly.