Yachting: Unhappy Campers heading for Chile

Tony Rae and Adam Minoprio wrap up warm on the deck of Camper as the boat takes a hammering in the Southern Ocean. Picture / Hamish Hooper - Camper
Tony Rae and Adam Minoprio wrap up warm on the deck of Camper as the boat takes a hammering in the Southern Ocean. Picture / Hamish Hooper - Camper

Team New Zealand's Camper is to stop in Chile to inspect damage to the bow of the boat.

The front of the yacht was damaged in heavy seas on Saturday and Team New Zealand announced late last night they would make a brief stop at the Chilean port of Puerto Montt to carry out a permanent repair.

The boat is not withdrawing from leg five of the Volvo around-the-world race and management intend to resume racing when repairs are completed.

Skipper Chris Nicolson said the crew were in good spirits.

"This is the only option that is satisfactory to us from a safety perspective, but also keeps us in the race.

"It's a hard decision to make but we are all in good spirits. As we have said in the past the Southern Ocean throws up the best and worst days of your life- recent days certainly haven't been the best days but we will get through this uninjured and ready to continue in the race."

Camper had earlier dropped from first to fourth in the in the leg from Auckland to Brazil after slowing to repair the damage.

The damage occurred in 50-knot winds and 5m seas in the Southern Ocean yesterday after Camper fell heavily off a large wave, which navigator Will Oxley said felt like "being dropped from a two-storey building".

As the Team New Zealand boat slowed for repairs, they were passed by Groupama, overall race leaders Team Telefonica and Puma.

The other leading boats have all slowed as the focus switches from racing to survival as the fleet has moved further into the wild southern oceans.

Amid average wind strengths of around 40 knots and peak gusts over 60 knots, all four of the leading boats have slowed down.

"The boat could sail at 30 knots the whole way," said Telefonica skipper Iker Martinez. "But I don't think it would last more than 10 minutes without falling apart like that, so we're going at 18-20 knots."

"There's no doubt that the South Pacific pushes you to strive to be a better seaman," he said. "Down here we put aside the 'yachtsman' side of ourselves to strive to be better seamen, as that's what's going to get us to Brazil."

Puma navigator Tom Addis said his team were not overly concerned by their position as they trekked towards Cape Horn.

"Positions are easily hyped, but everyone's just looking after themselves. There's very little boat-to-boat strategy while the focus remains going fast at a heading that's generally east, and trying not to break anything."

Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing are in the fleet's wake in fifth position, while Team Sanya continue to head for New Zealand to repair damage to their starboard rudder.

Meanwhile, Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing were approaching the western edge of the ice limit in lighter winds more than 670 nautical miles off the lead. Staff reporter

- NZ Herald

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