Yachting: Camper setting up for a close finish

Team New Zealand's Camper. Photo / Dean Purcell
Team New Zealand's Camper. Photo / Dean Purcell

With the finish line in Auckland closing in, Team New Zealand's Camper are battling big seas and strong winds as they push Puma and Telefonica for a podium place.

With less than 500 miles to go before the conclusion of leg four of the Volvo Ocean Race, Camper are slowly drawing in on third placed Telefonica in waves more than six metres high and winds gusting up to 30 knots.

Camper skipper Chris Nicholson said a podium finish into Auckland is still very much up for grabs.

"It's game on right now with Puma and Telefonica, and we just need to take every inch of advantage that we can. We did a nice job transitioning through a light airs zone overnight and managed to pull back some much needed miles."

Camper, having opted for a more westerly course, is now less than 10 nautical miles away from Telefonica, with second placed Puma also within grasp.

Groupama remains dominant at the head of the fleet but all bets are off for finishing positions after the French boat, with Puma, Camper and Telefonica scrapping hard, while Abu Dhabi and Sanya look to threaten from the back of the pack.

After they navigate the rough conditions off the tip of the North Island, the boats will then face a patch of soft and variable conditions off the Bay of Islands tomorrow night, which is likely to open up further opportunities and potential passing lanes.

The tactics approaching Cape Reinga will be key, with boats wanting to avoid a costly tack out to the east but needing to lay the cape with good boat speed and minimum distance travelled.

"The little park up further down the coast should mix things up again, so there's plenty going on and opportunities to take advantage of," Nicholson said. "We just can't get too greedy and we're going to need to sail very well to move up the fleet."

Camper's estimated time of arrival in Auckland is mid-afternoon on Sunday. The sail up the Hauraki Gulf on Sunday morning in a moderate northerly breeze should provide a great spectacle for supporters and spectators.

"I know though that all the guys aboard will give it everything they can. We have more motivation than anyone else to do well into Auckland and we want to give all our fans and people who have supported us from day one a good result.

"The finish into Auckland is renowned for last minute upsets - let's hope we can deliver one."

- APNZ

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