Dana Johannsen is the NZ Herald's chief sports reporter

Yachting: Camper crew try for last push

Team New Zealand's Camper. Photo / Dean Purcell
Team New Zealand's Camper. Photo / Dean Purcell

Team New Zealand are plotting their final major push in the race to Auckland, as they look to salvage a podium finish after what has been a disastrous leg for the Kiwi boat.

Camper were last night benefiting from stronger winds in the west to draw in on the front-placed boats that are in lighter pressure to the east.

With Telefonica looking like the only boat capable of catching leg leaders Groupama over the remaining 500 nautical miles of the race, Camper's best hope will be finishing third ahead of Puma.

Late last night Team New Zealand were sitting in fourth place, but gaining steadily on Puma.

But with Camper still 150 miles behind Groupama, they are likely to finish several hours behind the leading boat.

Their current estimated time of arrival in Auckland is around 10am on Sunday, with the boat due to reach the northern tip of New Zealand just after midday tomorrow.

After they took a huge chunk out of Groupama's lead, spirits were running high on Telefonica - and navigator Andrew Cape said they had not given up on their quest for a fourth consecutive leg win coming into Auckland.

"Anything could happen at the moment," he said. "Groupama might have tacked too early, or might not have got out into the new breeze yet.

"They're only 100 miles away and we still have the coast of New Zealand to get down - anything can happen there.

"There are still opportunities - not big ones, but there are still chances."

Just 35 nautical miles separated third-placed Puma Ocean Racing from Emirates Team New Zealand.

After Puma surrendered second place to Telefonica yesterday, Camper helmsman Tony Rae said their chance of catching Ken Read's men on Mar Mostro now depended on what the weather gods had in store for each team.

"It's all about trying to wriggle our way through this light zone and hope we do it better than everyone else," said Rae. "It's a tricky old place. Our chances of catching Puma now depend on the angle of the wind and the amount of breeze we get compared to what they get.

"You've only got to be doing a couple of knots faster for a couple of scheds and the miles start racking up."

- NZ Herald

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