Volvo Ocean Race: Groupama and Camper resume the chase for third place

Camper with Emirates Team New Zealand, ready to leave Puerto Montt, 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 two remaining yachts in the Volvo Ocean Race are back at sea, and are chasing the vital third place points.

Puma Ocean Racing (Ken Read) and Telefonica (Franck Cammas) finished just over 12 minutes apart earlier today, taking first and second overall. Puma was the only yacht on the leg not to suspend racing at some stage from Auckland to Itajai, Brazil.

Groupama, who are chasing 20 points for third position, were dismasted on April 4 and put in to Punta Del Este in Uruguay to step a jury rig. The team left Punta del Este around 0500 GMT this morning, sailing the final 650 nautical miles (nm) short-handed.

Four crew, including navigator Jean Luc Nélias stepped off the boat and will re-join the team in Itajaí at the finish. The team were sailing with a heavily reefed mainsail and a staysail set from the longer part of the mast that was recovered. It has not been revealed why the crew stepped off the boat.

Skipper Franck Cammas directing Groupama Sailing Team as they leave Punta del Este, Uruguay, with their newly made jury rig, to continue leg 5 of the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12, from Auckland, New Zealand to Itajai, Brazil. (Credit: Yann Riou/Groupama Sailing Team/Volvo Ocean Race)

The spar they now have stepped is believed to be 21 metres in length - two thirds of the length of the original

An around the clock job by the team’s shore crew was launched and resulted in the make-shift rig being fashioned out of the top section of the mast, which was split in two, to ensure the team could have a greater sail area for the forecasted light winds.



Riou said the jury rig allowed Groupama 4 to have a mainsail with three reefs, and forestaysail.

Groupama shore team manager Ben Wright said light winds forecast for the coming days had forced them to use the larger section of the mast.

'We are making the most out of the fact that there is nobody right behind us,' Wright said.

Groupama Sailing Team leave Punta del Este, Uruguay, with their newly made jury rig, to continue leg 5 of the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12, from Auckland, New Zealand to Itajai, Brazil. (Credit: Yann Riou/Groupama Sailing Team/Volvo Ocean Race)

'We took out the lower piece of the mast, which was still in place, and replaced it with the bigger bit, which was broken and fell on the boat.

'There is some wind now but it’s going to drop down tonight and tomorrow.

'Leaving with such a small mast, the boat would struggle to move forward and it would take them a long while to sail to Itajaí and finish the leg.

Groupama Sailing Team leave Punta del Este, Uruguay, with their newly made jury rig, to continue leg 5 of the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12, from Auckland, New Zealand to Itajai, Brazil. (Credit: Yann Riou/Groupama Sailing Team/Volvo Ocean Race)

'Using the bigger section is more complicated, a little bit of work, but the weather has dictated us what to do.'

At 1000 GMT this morning, Volvo Ocean Race reported the team were making good progress, sailing at around eight knots. However the race dashboard showed they had slowed considerably a few hours later. Even so the trip is expected to take about 3.5 days and the winds should be abeam or astern for the duration.

The sailing team washing the back half of the boat to remove all of the carbon dust. CAMPER with Emirates Team New Zealand in Puerto Montt, 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©

Meanwhile, Camper, who docked at Puerto Montt in Chile to repair structural damage, departed at 0600 GMT and are making their way towards the point, 160 nm ahead, where they suspended racing on at 0130 GMT on April 2. They are expected to take up to 14 hours to reach their start point.

Skipper Chris Nicholson said the pit-stop had been a success and he now had full confidence that the red boat was ready to take on Cape Horn.

'It's hard to put into words the effort and commitment of our shore team,' he said. 'They simply gave up on sleep during our four day stopover. They knocked out the highest quality work, never a complaint. These are the people that keep these programs on track.'

A full frenzy of labour in the bow onboard CAMPER with Emirates Team New Zealand in Puerto Montt, 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©

But Nicholson admitted that his crew faced a new race against time as they fight to reach Itajaí in time for the in-port race.

'We are now on a very tight time frame to make the in port race in Itajaí,' he said. 'At this stage the weather looks OK, but it will be a bit push from the entire team so that we are ready for the next leg of the race.'

Sail-World's route projections for Camper projections show they will finish in about eight days to nine days to complete the route of just over 3,000 nm around Cape Horn before they finish in Itajaí. For finishing in fourth place, they will collect 15 points, following the retirement of Team Sanya (Mike Sanderson/NZL) and Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing (Ian Walker/GBR).



Mike Pammenter doing last minute repairs onboard CAMPER with Emirates Team New Zealand, in Puerto Montt, 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©