Yachting: Camper searching for consistency

With three legs of the Volvo Ocean Race remaining, Chris Nicholson says Camper will not be throwing caution to the wind in search of the lead - yet. Photo / Hamish Hooper.
With three legs of the Volvo Ocean Race remaining, Chris Nicholson says Camper will not be throwing caution to the wind in search of the lead - yet. Photo / Hamish Hooper.

With three legs of the Volvo Ocean Race remaining, Chris Nicholson says Camper will not be throwing caution to the wind in search of the lead - yet.

Just 17 points separate the top four boats after more than 30,000 nautical miles of racing, and the skipper of the Team New Zealand-backed boat thought consistency was the key to emerging triumphant from the tussle.

"At this stage, it's still business as usual for us," Nicholson said. "We're still trying to stay consistent with how we approach our racing. It's still too early to be risking everything, but we've certainly got plans in place later on when the points get close and teams are going to take more aggressive tactical options.

"At this stage, if we can be the team that remains consistent and gets consistent podium results others will fall by the wayside."

That consistency has been the story of Camper's voyage around the globe so far. Despite not claiming line honours in any of the six legs, Camper are sitting in third place and well within reach of the overall lead.

Spanish entry Telefonica lead the way on 164 points with French-sponsored boat Groupama trailing on 153 and Camper a further four points back.

Camper have managed to stay in touch thanks to four podium finishes, including a second place in the recently completed trek up the east coast of South America.

Nicholson reckoned reaching Miami in second spot helped to temper the frustration of the previous leg, from Auckland to Itaji in Brazil. During that journey, Camper were forced to make a pit stop for repairs in Chile and eventually completed the leg 10 days after the winners.

"It certainly feels like we're back on track after the leg before," Nicholson said. "After finishing so late and having no rest in the previous stopover, I'm hoping it was a pivotal point of the programme.

"It gives us a confidence in where we're positioned as a team but it ramps up the pressure because, obviously, now we're closer to the lead and it's getting very tight for the top four teams."

The competitive nature of the top four boats meant there was little allowance for error in the grand scheme of things, Nicholson said. That has been illustrated by runaway leaders Telefonica, winners of the opening three legs, coming closer to the pack.

"The problem is, in the quality of field, it's so easy to have a bad result. I watched [Telefonica] in the first three legs of the race, and it was almost as if someone had made a movie for the best three legs possible for a particular team. They got all of that and now I think things are balancing out a little bit."

Nicholson was hoping for some good fortune of his own when the seventh leg, from Miami to Lisbon, gets underway on Monday morning (NZT) following in-port racing.

"This next leg, I think our boat is pretty well-suited for. That is a major plus because those first three legs weren't suited for us and we suffered accordingly.

"We should see some up-winds, some running, and a smaller amount of reaching moves."

Rather than focus on the boats around them, Nicholson was firmly fixed on the 30 points on offer for the first team to reach Portugal.

"We can't control quite often where the opposition will end up but we can certainly have a huge bearing on where we end up."

- APNZ

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