Volvo Ocean Race: War of Attrition in Southern Ocean continues

Rob Salthouse doing a bit of rigging repair work 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©

Furious fifty knot wind and a big swell took a toll on Camper, who lost their lead to Groupama overnight and slowed their speed right down to work on repairs to their bow.

Adam Minoprio inspects a rope tail bag which was ripped from the cockpit by a big wave 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©
'Camper has in the last few hours had to slow down to assess and repair bow damage sustained after falling heavily off a wave and delaminating a forward structural beam,' the team said.

Skipper Chris Nicholson said from the yacht: 'The boat is in no immediate danger and the crew is fine, but with the bow now flexing and the weight of wind we cannot push on as fast as we would like. We are starting on repairs that will allow us to get going as fast as is practical.'

Earlier, Camper navigator Will Oxley said the boat had suffered from the full fury of the Southern Ocean. He said it had felt like the boat was 'being dropped from a two-storey building'.

The repetitive hammering took a toll on a forward bulkhead that required repairs and cost her tens of miles on their rivals.

'We've been backed off for 12 or 13 hours doing some significant repair work up forward,’’ Oxley said in a radio interview. 'We've just completed those repairs and we've got some heat up forward trying to cook off the bulkhead so we're good to go and can get up to speed again.'

The repair crew of helmsman/trimmer Rob Salthouse and bowman Mike Pammenter had risked life and limb in the delicate operation and deserved a massive pat on the back, Oxley said.

'It’s pretty full on, trying to not to drop off a wave in the middle of them using a jigsaw or grinder and chop off their hand instead,’’ he said. 'Salty and Mike have been dong a fantastic job under difficult conditions, working flat out.'

While Camper were heads down with their repairs, France’s Groupama sailing team slipped into poll position, Team Telefónica claimed second place and Puma Ocean Racing powered by Berg moved into third.

Skipper Chris Nicholson helming in huge seas, 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©

At 1000 UTC Groupama held a 14-nautical mile lead over Telefónica Puma a further 27 nm behind. Camper were in fourth place 50 nm behind the leaders and doing an average speed of 13 knots.

Puma navigator Tom Addis said his team were not overly concerned by their position as they trekked towards Cape Horn.

'Positions are easily hyped but everyone’s just looking after themselves,’’ he said. 'There’s very little boat-to-boat strategy while the focus remains going fast at a heading that’s generally east and trying not to break anything.'

Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing remain in the fleet’s wake in fifth position while Team Sanya continue to head for New Zealand to repair damage to their starboard rudder.

Stu Bannatyne gets entombed in his warm sleeping bag once off watch 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©

Stu Bannatyne gets entombed in his warm sleeping bag once off watch 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©

Daryl Wislang doing a quick repair on the foredeck being showered in icy ocean water 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©

Daryl Wislang repairs a ripper rep tail bag which was ripped off by a wave 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©