Volvo Ocean Race: Camper slips down the fleet

Skipper Chris Nicholson takes a bearing of Groupama on the horizon onboard Camper during leg 4 of the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12, from Sanya, China to Auckland, New Zealand.
Hamish Hooper/Camper ETNZ/Volvo Ocean Race©

According to the latest position update run by Sail-World using the route projection and time to finish functions of www.predictwind.com!PredictWind, the New Zealand/Spanish entry in the Volvo Ocean Race, Camper, has slid from being the leg leader to a projected third place.

The yachts are not out of the light airs that have bedeviled this leg, according to the latest data from Volvo Ocean Race, all the boats are now heading south of east and making good double digit speeds.

The most northerly boats being Puma (Ken Read) and Groupama (Franck Cammas) are lying in second and first places respectively according to the two weather feeds used by Predictwind.com

Both feeds give slightly different courses, but the margins do vary, with one placing Camper three hours behind Groupama and two hours behind Puma. The other has Camper seven hours behind Groupama and five hours behind Puma.

The sailing speeds show that Camper is now more than holding her own with Groupama, and a change in these positions is expected at the next sked.

The latest report from Camper explains their last few hours:

On the eighth day of Leg 4 the end of the long road east in search of wind is in sight for Camper with Emirates Team New Zealand as the breeze begins its predicted shift to the right.

The more northerly boats in the fleet (Groupama, Puma and Abu Dhabi) have already begun to benefit from the shift and are steering a more southerly course with better wind and boat speed than Camper and Telefonica. This has enabled Groupama to to snare the lead off CAMPER and build a 22.6 nautical mile advantage. Camper is in second place with Telefonica in third 35.1 miles off the pace.

However the leaderboard may be reshuffled again over the next 24 hours as Puma, Groupama and Abu Dhabi look to take further advantage of their northerly position and better conditions and roll over Camper and Telefonica to the south before they pick up the full advantage of the new breeze.

Current models are suggesting that CAMPER will not feel the full benefit of the new breeze until later this evening meaning a nervous few hours for the team as they try to fend off the advances of the fast approaching northerly boats.

Over the last 3 hours Groupama’s average boat speed has been more than 5 knots more than Camper's and they along with Puma, Sanya and Abu Dhabi are heading several degrees further south than CAMPER

Camper skipper Chris Nicholson says that it’s going to be a tough night.

'The guys up north are looking really good at the moment and they’ve got the full advantage of the new breeze. Hopefully we pick it up sooner rather than later and can limit the damage they do to us.

'I’ll be much happier once we’re in the north east trades and out of this light stuff – it’s nervous times.

'There’s a long way to go and a lot of race track ahead to get back in front but we need to stay in touch and don’t want to see Groupama stretch out to much of a lead.'

'We’re going to bleed more miles over the next few hours, so the challenges for us is to focus on scrapping our way back in front and gaining back those lost miles.'

Camper in the latest position report at 1500h 27 February NZT is averaging 11.9 knots in a 10 knot south westerly.