Volvo Ocean race: Adverse weather pushes Camper to Lyttleton

CAMPER with Emirates Team New Zealand - will look for more downwind sailing
Emirates Team New Zealand / Photo Chris Cameron ETNZ ©

Emirates Team New Zealand has decided on the South Island in the winter rather than tropical Fiji for the next phase of testing sails, systems and crew training on the Volvo Ocean Race yacht CAMPER.

Skipper Chris Nicholson decided today to withdraw from the Auckland-Musket Cove race which starts at Auckland tomorrow in favour of a voyage to the edge of the Southern Ocean.

Nicholson said the sailing team needed several days of down-wind and reaching conditions to test sails. 'We had expected to get that on the way to and from Fiji and we would have been able to combine racing and testing. Our weather team says there will be head winds for most of the trip to Fiji and a big chance of head winds on the way back to Auckland.

PredictWind’s optimum route for a VOR70 for the Fiji Race starting on Saturday - showing a right hand turn necessary to avoid the worst effect of the headwinds in the direct route to Fiji.

'We did plenty of up-wind work on the tour of New Zealand in early May and we were on the wind from Lyttelton to Three Kings Islands north of North Cape when we did the 2000 nautical mile qualifier.

'We collected an enormous amount of data over the three weeks and we don’t need to repeat it. We lack data on downwind and reaching so, in view of the forecast, we are heading south rather than north.'

CAMPER will start with the Fiji fleet at noon on Saturday and will peel off towards the Bay of Plenty. The yacht expects to call at Lyttelton on Monday where a decision on the direction of the remainder of the voyage will be made in light of an updated weather forecast

Emirates Team New Zealand managing director Grant Dalton, a veteran of seven round-the-world races, was going to race to Fiji on the VO70.

'We wanted to support the Fiji race and advance CAMPER’s preparation for the Volvo Ocean Race at the same time,' he said. 'We won’t get the race experience but we will a lot of testing done.'

Sail-World: The wind prognosis from Predictwind shows strong head winds on the rhumb line course to Fiji, and the recommended route is to turn right into the Pacific Ocean, before heading for Fiji. The extra distance sailed is significant. Even after the boats do turn left towards Fiji the winds, swing aft for a few hours before coming more ahead of the beam for the rest of the race.