Yachting: Camper crew catching up on sleep

A quiet change of watch onboard CAMPER with Emirates Team New Zealand during leg 5 of the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12. Photo / Hamish Hooper.
A quiet change of watch onboard CAMPER with Emirates Team New Zealand during leg 5 of the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12. Photo / Hamish Hooper.

Life on a boat limping its way to Chile for repairs is much different to one racing at full speed in the Southern Ocean and many of the crew on board Camper are getting more sleep then they have all campaign.

The Team New Zealand have less than 1000 miles to sail to Puerto Montt, where they will stop to get their damaged bow repaired and the boat back racing. The are expected to make landfall on April 3.

Despite a confused sea state and more than 30 knots of breeze, the temporary repair is remaining stable and holding up well.

Camper skipper Chris Nicholson said the biggest challenge aboard now was keeping the crew occupied with all the extra spare time they have on their hands.

"I can't say we'd be a very good delivery crew as everybody is pretty frustrated to not be going at full racing pace," he said. "The cards are out, any reading material aboard is being monopolised, and I think the guys are getting more sleep than since the campaign began.

"Everyone on board is really ready to get racing again and with the way the fleet is shaping up once we restart we could be fighting hard all the way to Brazil for a potential podium finish.

"One thing is for sure and that is that it's never over until you cross that finish line. We are going to pushing hard when we leave Puerto Montt and resume racing. There's still a lot of points on the line and we want to get as many of them as we can. This race is so tight that every point you can grab now is going to be useful down the track."

Only two of the six boats are racing at full capacity. Groupama rounded Cape Horn first this morning only to be followed by Puma less than an hour later.

Telefonica are in third, 300 miles behind the leaders, but are heading to Ushuaia in Argentina to repair their bow and Abu Dhabi are weighing up their options after being forced to make hasty repairs to their damaged hull. Team Sanya have withdrawn from the leg and won't rejoin the race until the seventh leg from Miami.

The crew on board Abu Dhabi discovered delamination in a mid-section of the hull of their boat overnight and launched into a five-hour repair job that saw 30 bolts screwed through the hull to prevent further damage.

In order to carry out the repair, the crew had to slow the boat to a standstill and tilt it onto its side in heavy weather so bowman Justin Slattery, lowered overboard while safely fastened to a halyard, could tighten the bolts on the outside of the hull.

Inside the hull, boat captain Wade Morgan and watch leader Craig Satterthwaite braced the damaged section with parts ripped from the boats bunks, stacking system and lockers.

"We've basically joined the skins back together with a mechanical fixing," skipper Ian Walker said. "At the moment it's been much improved, we've got much less noise and it seems fairly strong. We're still taking it quite easy right now."

It is the second major repair the Abu Dhabi crew have had to carry out in leg 5 from Auckland. They chose to return to Auckland within hours of starting the leg to repair structural damage to a bulkhead in the bow.

- APNZ

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