Yachting: Dalton praises work on last leg

By Paul Lewis

Camper is due in Auckland today. 
Photo / Getty Images
Camper is due in Auckland today. Photo / Getty Images

Emirates Team New Zealand boss Grant Dalton says he is pleased with the way Camper had been sailed in the China-Auckland leg and confirmed that some of the team's problems were down to boat speed.

"I had been critical of some things, like their navigation before, but I think they have done everything right this time. They sailed a really good leg."

Earlier this week, Dalton admitted the boat was not as fast as most of the opposition. He said the problem lay in a design fault.

"We are probably quickest upwind and are quick running in breeze but the problem is that there has been a lot of power reaching - and the boat is only average at that.

"It's an inherent design fault but I can't tell you exactly what it is yet. I can't say whether it is a), b), or c) - only a proper post-race analysis could tell you that. But there's no question it's down to the design. The guy who did it made some assumptions based on this or that but the other guys [designers of other yachts] just did it better; they based it on that or this [rather than this or that]."

"Usually in this race, you might get one boat that is a bit quicker but this time [because of the design specifications] we have three - Groupama, Telefonica and Puma. Having said all that, we have had boats like Puma behind us. Puma is quicker but was behind us for other reasons."

Late last night, the French entry Groupama was poised to win the Auckland leg. Dalton had expected Groupama to win after the gains it had made looked too big to bridge - but he had been hopeful that Camper would employ a bit of local knowledge to come home fast and grab second place.

"It can happen like that. I remember, back in 1997, we were fifth coming in to the top [of New Zealand] and we came in first to Auckland. We could see through the binoculars there was no wind offshore so we just sort of sneaked into the edge of the breakers - and we had a hell of a wind all the way down the coast."

That was exactly the scenario playing out late last night behind Groupama's comfortable lead - a classically intense battle down the northern coastline of New Zealand. With under 250 miles to Auckland, Camper was locked in a tight duel with Puma and Telefonica for second place with less than 10 miles separating them.

None of the three boats had a clear advantage last night and, with a large light airs zone off the Bay of Islands to be navigated through, the full outcome of the leg was still too close to call.

Camper's latest estimated time of arrival in Auckland is between 4pm-6pm today with the three yachts likely to be neck and neck for the final run up the Hauraki Gulf to the finish line off the Viaduct.

Light and variable conditions combined with the tightly bunched fleet means that anything could happen, said Camper skipper Chris Nicholson: "It's going to be an extremely tense 24 hours. We're determined to get past our competitors and the big parking lot coming up offers exactly that opportunity. These conditions are so changeable that anything could happen. You look at the tradition of this race and it's all about classic battles down the coast of New Zealand with last minute lead changes so I certainly hope that occurs and if it deserves to happen to any team then it's us."

- Herald on Sunday

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