Volvo Ocean Race: Camper disappointed at decision to split Leg 4

Camper during the start of leg 4 of the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12, from Sanya, China to Auckland, New Zealand.

Camper with Emirates Team New Zealand has expressed their disappointment at the decision by Volvo Ocean Race organisers to split Leg 4 into two stages and hold the six boats in Sanya after Sunday's leg start for up to 24 hours in order to avoid forecast bad weather

Late yesterday evening race organisers informed teams that due to the forecast conditions after a short inshore course the fleet will finish and then wait in Sanya until conditions are deemed safe enough for them to sail. The delay will not be for more than 24 hours. The re-start will be staggered, with the boats leaving in the order they finish Stage 1.

Camper Skipper Chris Nicholson says that while the team respects the decision of race organisers they are disappointed by the move.

'Our strong preference was and remains for Leg 4 to start as intended. This is a fully professional race and ultimately we believe the decision on whether to start or not should be in the hands of the skipper.

'We’re professional sailors not professional risk takers and the reality is that the conditions our forecasters are predicting out there are manageable. None of our models are suggesting the 8 to 10 metre waves that I’ve heard being used to justify this decision.

World Champion gymnast and 3 time Olympic Gold medalist Yang Wei from China somersaults off the back of Camper at the start of leg 4 of the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12, from Sanya, China to Auckland, New Zealand

'We believe there are several different options available for the fleet to deal with the forecast conditions and position themselves within manageable wind and wave conditions. By short tacking up the shoreline we would most likely encounter 25 to 35 knots and 2 to 3 metre seas which this boat is more than capable of dealing with.

'As a team we built and designed a boat for these types of conditions and trained in them off New Zealand last winter knowing that we were likely to encounter them in this race. It is frustrating for all of us that this decision limits our ability to race the boat in the conditions we’ve prepared for.

'This is a professional around the world race and as such we need to be set to go to sea in rough conditions.

Cmaper leads Team Telefonica, skippered by Iker Martinez from Spain during the start of leg 4 of the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12, from Sanya, China to Auckland, New Zealand.

'All teams in this race have different agendas they’re trying to push on this decision but ours is pretty simply and up front – we’re well prepared and geared up for the conditions and we want to go sailing.'

Sail-World: The split race proved to be a crap-shoot, with Puma being a clear leader for the leg down to the statue of Buddha, she rounded the mark with a big advantage which would have been sufficient to hold her margin to the finish, despite one major windshift before rounding the mark. Another shift on the return leg cost her dearly, with her lead transforming into a deficit estimated to be in the region of 30-45 minutes - being the distance they will have to start behind the leader, Telefonica.

Camper fared a little better finishing fifth, after being second at one stage and sixth in another point of the race. She will start over nine minutes behind Telefonica when racing resumes at 7.00am local time.

The weather forecast for the race start proper tomorrow is for reduced winds, but even so the weather routing is recommending a reach from Sanya across to the first waypoint at the Phillipines. Not too different to that predicted had the race start gone ahead as planned today, except that wind strengths would have reduced by about 10kts

Camper during the start of leg 4 of the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12, from Sanya, China to Auckland, New Zealand.