Dana Johannsen is the NZ Herald's chief sports reporter

Yachting: Team NZ facing battle to make podium in Auckland

Mike Pammenter dragging sails forward in light winds onboard Camper. Photo / VOR
Mike Pammenter dragging sails forward in light winds onboard Camper. Photo / VOR

Team New Zealand will have to battle hard over the last 1500 nautical miles on leg four of the Volvo Ocean Race if they are to even make the podium in their hometown stopover.

The Camper crew safely completed their tricky passage through the Solomon Islands over the last 24 hours but were only able to make modest gains on the leaders, who continue to hold a strong advantage in the race in to Auckland.

The Kiwi team will need to be on the look-out for further opportunities in the complex weather situation developing ahead if they are to improve their current fourth-place position.

Camper, along with Telefonica, made good time in the run through the middle of the Solomon Islands chain dodging numerous unmarked reefs, wind shadows and strong tidal surges to re-emerge in an improved position for the run down to New Zealand.

"The next few days will be pretty interesting," said Camper bowman Mike Pammenter.

"The boats out east might have a slightly better wind angle and a bit better breeze but we have cut a big corner here. Time will tell and we will see how the dice rolls for us."

In last night's latest position report Team New Zealand had moved up from fifth to fourth in the fleet but were still 160 nautical miles off leaders Groupama. Puma were in second place, 70 miles behind the French boat, with Telefonica in third.

The fleet is now confronted with a complex weather situation that is likely to offer plenty of headaches and opportunities for teams over the remaining six or seven days of racing.

Camper skipper Chris Nicholson is hopeful the fleet will compress up in the expected light conditions heading in to Auckland and his crew will be able to take advantage.

"Things are looking pretty complex weatherwise so that means there's the opportunity for ... us to get back in the game," he said.

"We are going to be hunting hard all the way to Auckland that's for sure."

- NZ Herald

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