Yachting: Camper keep Groupama at bay to win last leg at Galway

Camper Team NZ / AP.
Camper Team NZ / AP.

It took until the last sprint into Galway but Camper have finally won a leg of the Volvo Ocean Race and all but confirmed second spot in the gruelling event.

The Team New Zealand boat secured a narrow win yesterday in the 550-nautical-mile sprint from Lorient, France, to Ireland, crossing seven minutes ahead of Groupama, who claimed overall honours. Camper need only to finish the final in-port race this weekend to finish second overall.

It has not been an easy race for Camper as they battled speed issues and made several tactical errors, but they consistently claimed points to finish runner-up.

They slipped to fourth in the final leg but surged through the field once they hoisted their massive A4 spinnaker and held off a series of challenges from their rivals.

"The whole team delivered today and I'm very, very happy for everybody who is part of this programme," skipper Chris Nicholson said.

"I look at what everyone does day in, day out and I think this is the sailing team's way of saying thank you. We just had a really good leg - the tactical calls and the crew work were by far the best we've ever been able to produce.

"Winning a leg gets a huge monkey off our back. Everything needed to happen this leg and we delivered. What a way to finish the race."

Nicholson said the team had prepared for the short final leg as if it was an in-port race and, finally, some in-race decisions went their way.

"We went quite light with our weight on board - we had everything geared up for port tack. There were a couple of tactical calls this afternoon which had a big part to play. We tried not to think about it but we knew the whole race depended on those decisions. Some of the sail changes we did on the last night were in full-on conditions. Every team did them but we did them and nailed them.

"The test of a team is that if you fall over you can then get up and stand up again. We passed that test over the last nine months and I'm just delighted for the guys."

The leg win was not a straightforward one, with Camper having to overcome a pre-start penalty, several lead changes, reaching conditions that have not been the boat's strong point and a last-minute charge from Groupama.


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