Yachting: Camper digs deep to return to the podium

Team New Zealand's Camper have moved to third overall position in the Volvo Ocean Race after a gritty fight saw the team take second place in leg eight. Photo / Hamish Hooper.
Team New Zealand's Camper have moved to third overall position in the Volvo Ocean Race after a gritty fight saw the team take second place in leg eight. Photo / Hamish Hooper.

Team New Zealand's Camper have moved to third overall position in the Volvo Ocean Race after a gritty fight saw the team take second place in leg eight.

For the last two days of the leg Camper endured some of the most extreme weather seen in the race, with winds gusting at more than 50 knots and seven to eight metre seas that pushed both boat and crew to the limit.

However, the crew dug deep and fended off strong advances from first Telefonica and then Puma to finish second, just under an hour behind leg winner and race leader Groupama.

The 25 points picked up returns Camper to the podium and leaves the team just five points behind second placed Puma with one leg and two in-port races remaining.

Camper skipper Chris Nicholson said the leg, which saw the crew set a new 24 distance record for this edition of the race, was a good one for the team.

"The guys were just amazing, we had no dramas all the way here and at times we had over 50 knots and massive seas," Nicholson said. "To finish second here and get ourselves back on the podium is massive for all sorts of reasons.

"It gets us on a nice roll heading into the finish and it's something positive for the team at a vital time. The sailing over the last few days has been hugely exciting and at times a bit scary, so to take away the 24 hour record and a solid result is great."

Nicholson said the trying conditions left the team mainly focused not on results but making it to the end of the leg in one piece.

"When you're sending it as hard as what we were it is pretty easy to do serious damage to boat and crew and finish in last place or worse so I think we got the balance about right.

"Everyone's saying they have never been this knocked around. Last night we had a few moments where we were going at 38 knots down waves in the dark - that's not right."

The skipper thought Groupama were in with a good shot of claiming the race, but was determined to put up a good fight.

"[Groupama] have got an impressive programme, great speed and nice tactics. But we're going to keep on pushing right to the very end and we're certainly looking to forward the next in-port and leg and moving further up the leaderboard.

"We had to do well in this leg and we did. It shows the fighting spirit of this team - we don't give up and we'll keep fighting as long as there's points on offer."

The crew of Camper now have a well-earned week off before getting back out on the water in preparation for the Lorient in-port race on June 30th.

- APNZ

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