Dana Johannsen is the NZ Herald's chief sports reporter

Yachting: Party, yes, but it's all go for the shore crews

The arrival of the Volvo Ocean Race fleet is still hours away but already the race village in Auckland is abuzz with activity as the shore crews gear up for a frantic turnaround between legs.

A delayed arrival into the City of Sails plus a busy schedule of practice racing, Pro-Am and In-Port Race leading up to the leg 5 start next Sunday, leaves little time for vital preparations.

The start of leg 4 into Auckland was delayed by 12 hours to allow the fleet to wait out a brewing storm - a move that angered Camper skipper Chris Nicholson who felt his team were well prepared for the difficult conditions.

The delay, in effect, cost the fleet three days as missing the heavy winds forced them to head further east than they otherwise would have in search of breeze.

The hold-up is hugely disappointing for the organisers of the Auckland stopover, as they await the arrival of the boats to kick the party into high gear.

But it's the crews - both on board and on shore - that will suffer the most from the short turnaround between legs.

Team New Zealand shore manager Neil Cox said with less than a week to get the boat ready before the 6700 nautical mile leg to Itajai, Brazil, via the notorious Cape Horn, his team will be working a 24-hour roster.

"The Auckland stopover is going to be a very compressed stopover; we're very fortunate that we're able to use our own team base and our set-up here is great, but we're still going to be under the pump," said Cox.

The teams will have until Thursday at the latest to carry out any maintenance and repairs, with the pro-Am races scheduled for Friday.

Team Telefonica and Groupama have had to draft in extra pairs of hands to help with the preparations for leg 5.

"We have extra people coming in to cover a lot of the checks and double checks, and to make sure we can do a lot of work in a short amount of time," said Ben Wright, Groupama's shore crew manager.

The six competing Volvo Ocean 70s yachts will be moored in Pit Lane, offering visitors to the race village the opportunity to take a close look at the world's fastest monohulls.

The public will also get a chance for a close look on board Camper when Emirates Team New Zealand throw open the doors from 4.30pm to 8.30pm on Wednesday.

Both the crew of Camper and Dean Barker's America's Cup crew will be there.

Volvo Ocean Race

Auckland Stopover events schedule

Today: The leading boat is due in at about 11 tonight.
Tomorrow: The remainder of the fleet, including Team New Zealand's entry Camper, are expected to trickle in throughout the day.
March 14: Emirates Team New Zealand will open up their base to the public from 4.30pm to 8.30pm.
March 16: Pro-am races.
March 17: In-port race.
March 18: Start of leg 5 to Itajai, Brazil.

- NZ Herald

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