The first part of leg three of the Volvo Ocean Race has delivered a disappointing result for Team New Zealand's Camper, but they have managed to hold onto second overall.

The 106 nautical mile sprint down the United Arab Emirates coast to Sharjah produced a thrilling finish, with the entire fleet finishing within minutes of one another after a neck and neck battle.

Camper made a strong start and held second place behind Telefonica as the fleet rounded the last mark out of Abu Dhabi and headed for Sharjah. But, on the long reach into the finish, superior boat speed from Abu Dhabi, Groupama and Puma saw them slowly edge past Camper and secure a small advantage by the finish.

The finishing order, which saw overall race leader Telefonica finish just in front of Camper, means that the overall standings for the race remain unchanged with Telefonica and Camper in first and second, respectively.


Camper skipper Chris Nicholson, though, wasn't happy with the performance.

"It's certainly not the result we were looking for and the reality is that we were left wanting for speed on the reach," he said. "We had made some changes to the boat and, by our numbers, we were actually going better than what we were on the race into Abu Dhabi from Sharjah but clearly still not enough to hang onto the others.

"Now we need to go back to the drawing board and see what else we can do to improve our reaching speed."

The boats will now be placed on a ship and transported under armed guard through a high risk piracy area to a secret safehaven in the Indian Ocean, where racing will resume with a 4000 mile slog to Sanya in China.

"We just have to bide our time for the next stage of the leg," Nicholson said. "The vast majority of (leg three), distance and points wise, lays ahead of us. We now have a lot of homework in regards to the weather and geographical obstacles that we will face in the 4000 odd miles from the safehaven to Sanya.

"I don't think the next stage will be won by boat speed, it will be won by being smart and keeping the boat in one piece and going the right way."

Once the boats are unloaded at the safehaven, racing to Sanya will resume on January 23 and the first boats could reach Sanya by February 4.