Volvo Ocean Race: 'The hardest opening night I have ever done' + Video

Camper during the Volvo Ocean Race Auckland Departure

Hamish Hooper blogs from on board Camper, after their first night at sea on Leg 5 of the Volvo Ocean Race

As predicted that was, a particularly torrid night

At times it was blowing 43 knots and the guys on deck were trying to tame the beast under such chaotic conditions.

In the bunk about an inch below the carbon fibre deck I could hear the guys yelling as loud as they could at each other, but to no avail.



With no wind noise below deck I could hear what each of them were saying, but they couldn’t hear a word each other as saying.

A call repeatedly from Nico to Animal only a couple of metres away, 'I can’t hear you! I can’t hear you!!!!'

Mike Pammenter and Andy McLean talking on the rail with the fleet in the background 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©

It sounded like a good old fashioned husband and wife yelling match, but they were just trying to tell each other something- perhaps more accurately a hard of hearing 85 year old husband and wife.

But seriously sailing and controlling the boat in these sorts of conditions shows true seamanship. It is mighty impressive, man against the elements.

This morning Stu Bannatyne came below deck for the first time since we left Auckland, blood shot eyes, hoarse voice a picture of exhaustion, in fact he looked like he had gone 10 rounds with Mike Tyson.

After his 2 hours off watch sleep, he didn’t look much better but was rearing to get back on deck.

CAMPER with Emirates Team New Zealand, skippered by Chris Nicholson from Australia, heading in to tough seas, at the start of leg 5 from Auckland, New Zealand to Itajai, Brazil, during the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12. (Credit: PAUL TODD/Volvo Ocean Race) - Volvo Ocean Race - Leg 5 - Day 1

Regrettably I feel like I have been on an all night drinking binge with George Best. Crook as. The banging crashing wild conditions have bought a few of us down, so life right now life consists of short spurts of action before racing back to the bunk to get horizontal again before the sickness takes too much of a hold again. It’s not that much fun.

Still, things could be worse, like for Abu Dhabi, who we think are back in Auckland now. We aren’t sure what happened but we watched for close to an hour as they went along with only their main up, before disappearing over the horizon at dusk. Hopefully all of the crew are OK onboard and they can rejoin the race shortly.

CAMPER with Emirates Team New Zealand, skippered by Chris Nicholson from Australia, heading in to tough seas, at the start of leg 5 from Auckland, New Zealand to Itajai, Brazil, during the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12. (Credit: PAUL TODD/Volvo Ocean Race) - Volvo Ocean Race - Leg 5 - Day 1

It seems that ever time we sail in the vicinity of the East Cape of New Zealand we get a good smashing over. I am sure that we have been through all of this before in our training last year has counted for something in our position in the fleet right now.

So far so good, hopefully we can maintain position and get down into some good breeze first that will fire us safely towards Cape Horn.

Last night in my world of pain in my bunk, I heard Chuny mention a particularly comforting thought, 'From now on, we are sailing towards the finish, we have passed the furthest point from the start so every mile takes us closer to Galway.'

I very much liked this thought.

Will Oxley our trusty navigator just told me we crossed the International Date Line into yesterday… I hope we don’t have to go through what we did yesterday again now…

Golden Quote:
' Without a shadow of a doubt that was the hardest opening night of a Volvo leg I have ever done.' Stu Bannatyne

Rob Salthouse keeping an eye on the following boats from 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©