America's Cup rivals and training partners Luna Rossa have been in Auckland for a fortnight but rather than look ahead to next year's big series of races in San Francisco, the priority for Grant Dalton is getting more speed out of Camper in the Volvo Ocean Race.
Emirates Team NZ chief executive Dalton, who has sailed the gruelling ocean race six times and won it twice, is determined to improve Camper's performance and is putting more resources into doing so.
Camper is second behind Team Telefonica, but a lack of boat speed, shown up most obviously in the 106 nautical mile sprint first section of the third leg from Abu Dhabi to Sharjah where they were in a good position but finished fifth, is concerning Dalton.
"Most of my attention has been focused on Camper and the Volvo Ocean Race," Dalton wrote in a blog. "Honestly, we aren't going well enough," he said. "Some of that is a boat which is beating its numbers but under-performing [against the opposition] at certain angles.
"We have improved but the reach down the coast a few days ago, especially in flat water, showed we aren't fast enough.
We need to turn our attention to maximising points where we can - like the in-port races and offshore, when the conditions favour the boat," he said.
"What I can say is as an organisation this is being treated as a priority," Dalton said. "The boys on board are doing a good job but as Emirates Team New Zealand we are now trying to bring more resource to the party.
"Telefonica was the only boat that had a worse result than us in the Abu Dhabi in-port then the run down the coast. At least we netted a point back on them, now [we are] seven behind in second place."
The race was scheduled to re-start at 9pm tonight (eds: 9pm, Sunday NZ time) with the second section of the third leg beginning at an undisclosed location due to the risk of piracy. The finish is the Chinese city of Sanya and the six-strong fleet will race more than 3,000 nautical miles across the Indian Ocean, through the Malacca Strait and into the South China Sea to get there. The leg is expected to take about two weeks to complete.
Camper skipper Chris Nicholson will probably feel under more pressure with the news that Dalton is looking more closely at all levels of the boat's performance but said the second stage of the third leg could favour Camper.
"We just have to bide our time for this next leg," he said. "There'll be a bit more upwind which we're comfortable with and just keep chipping away at where we're weak.
"I don't think the next leg will be won by boat speed, it will be won with being smart and keeping the boat in one piece and going the right way."
Chinese entrant Team Sanya will hope to make an impact on this leg after being beset by problems. In the first leg from Alicante to Cape Town the boat was holed by a storm and in the second leg to Abu Dhabi it broke its rig and had to take refuge in Madagascar.
"Obviously, a win in the in-port race at home would be a dream come true but just finishing the leg will be a milestone after all we've been through," skipper Mike Sanderson said.
The remainder of leg three will be among the toughest the fleet has faced. Some of the obstacles to be negotiated include monsoon winds, long stretches of upwind sailing through rough seas and, finally, container ships.
- APNZBy Patrick McKendry