Yachting: Battle for third back on for Camper

CAMPER with Emirates Team NZ. Photo / Hamish Hooper.
CAMPER with Emirates Team NZ. Photo / Hamish Hooper.

The battle for third in the fifth leg of the Volvo Ocean Race could come down to which team can repair their boat the quickest after Abu Dhabi suffered hull damage overnight and are expected to head to South Africa to make repairs.

It means Camper could now be back in the race. It looked like they were out of it when they suffered serious damage to their bow last week as the Southern Ocean battered the fleet and they are making their way to Chile to repair the boat before heading to the fifth pitstop at Itajai in Brazil.

But with Sanya having returned to New Zealand, Telefonica heading to Argentina and Abu Dhabi also expected to make an unscheduled stop, only two boats are left racing.

Groupama hold a 24-mile lead over Puma as they close on Cape Horn.

"It looks like Groupama and Puma are untouchable out the front of the fleet, but with us, Telefonica and Abu Dhabi all in a similar situation the race for third and fourth place is wide open," Camper skipper Chris Nicholson said.

Camper still have 1200 nautical miles remaining to sail before they enter the fjords that lead to the Chilean port. They have been averaging more than 15 knots for much of the past 24 hours sailing downwind in 30 to 40 knots of wind, with only a storm jib and triple reefed main up in order to keep boat speed manageable and stress on the hull minimised.

Camper's shore crew have arrived in Puerto Montt and are busy preparing for the boat's expected arrival around April 3 and working to ensure that boat's time in port is keep to an absolute minimum.

"The situation is stable and we're making good progress with the repairs holding up nicely," Nicholson said. "We're effectively in a race delivery mode and seem to have found a happy medium between pushing the boat to tick of the miles quicker and not doing any further damage.

"In a way, life on board is about as mundane as it gets on a Volvo 70, but that gives us a chance to recharge the batteries a bit and ensure that by the time we get ashore the boat is cleaned up and ready for the boat builders to jump in and get to work."

- APNZ

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