Yachting: Camper pushing hard for victory in Miami

The battle for leg six honours in the Volvo Ocean Race looks set to go down to the wire. Photo / Hamish Hooper.
The battle for leg six honours in the Volvo Ocean Race looks set to go down to the wire. Photo / Hamish Hooper.

The battle for leg six honours in the Volvo Ocean Race looks set to go down to the wire with just 14 nautical miles between Camper and first placed Puma, as the fleet enters the final 24 hours of racing.

Overnight the top two boats fended off an attack from the trailing teams and wriggled out of a large windless hole and into a light southerly breeze. These conditions are forecast to remain for the rest of the leg with the boats sailing into steadily improving pressure.

This should ensure that Camper has a good chance of holding off the advances of Groupama and Telefonica, with the main challenge for the team now being to slip past Puma in the 250 nautical miles remaining to Miami.

Once the boats round the last waypoint of Eleuthera Island lighthouse they will have a final run down to the finish in a steady 10 to 15 knot southerly breeze which should set Puma and Camper up for a final match race to the finish line.

According to race meteorologist Gonzalo Infante, whoever rounds Eleuthera first will be able to breathe a little easier as steadier southerly winds fill in, meaning fewer passing opportunities.

Infante said that the high pressure system which slowed the boats on Monday is moving south east, meaning the leading pair will be sailing downwind to the turning mark as the wind veers progressively from north east to south east.

"After they reach the mark, 10-14 knots of southerly breeze should fill in between there and Miami making it harder for overtaking," Infante said. "If this scenario plays out, it looks increasingly unlikely that these two can be caught now."

Camper skipper Chris Nicholson said that after weeks of doggedly pursuing Puma they are ready for the challenge.

"We've been scrapping with Puma for days and we know that in the right conditions we can more than match them.

"They've got a tidy lead at the moment and there's not to many passing lanes on offer but we've just got to take every mile as it comes and do what we can to maximise speed and reel them in.

Nicholson is hoping for a safer run than the last time he raced into Miami, when the boat he was sailing on was struck by lightning.

"We lost everything electrical on board, so anything can happen."

As it stands, Telefonica lead overall by 16 points from Groupama. Camper are nine points further back and Puma are a total of 32 points off the pace.

The winners of each of the remaining four offshore legs, including the one to Miami, will pick up 30 points, with 25 on offer for second, 20 for third and so on down to five points for sixth. The four remaining in-port races deliver six points for the winners, with five for second, four for third down to one point for sixth.

- APNZ

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