Six million dollars worth of Volvo round-the-world yacht was back in the water this week as Emirates Team New Zealand's Camper came through its first big sea test in fine style.

After its month long tour of New Zealand, the Volvo 70 headed off for a 2000-mile 'qualifying tour' during which the 10-man crew experienced some demanding weather but finished with a pleasingly uncomplicated list of "must fix" items.

The 70-foot Camper had to bang into grim headwinds for much of its week-long sail around the Pacific, with rain and heavy seas giving a decent battering.

"We got a fair old look at its reliability," said Camper skipper Chris Nicholson. "They were rough seas and really rough winds - although we didn't get as much downwind action as we'd have liked - but we got a really good reading on the structural integrity of the boat."

Such tests often result in a round-the-world boat heading back to the yard for some restructuring and some heavy re-thinks. But Nicholson said: "We had a long list of small items to fix - but nothing big. That's a good sign."

Some of the experienced round-the-world sailors on board said conditions were as cold as it was likely to get in the Volvo race itself and Nicholson agreed.

"The race doesn't go to the deep, deep south any more. I have experienced colder conditions - but not by much. You certainly wouldn't go looking for it."

The only major item left unchecked was the boat's performance downwind, in heavy weather.

"We got it up to 30 knots and that's travelling for a monohull," said Nicholson. "But we didn't get quite enough downwind, as most of the journey, we had the wind in our faces. There's a bit left in the boat - and we need to check out what it does when travelling downwind, with the greater speed and greater impact.

"It's a good problem to have, I guess, but we want to make sure we don't have a false sense of security with the boat being so well behaved so far."

Camper got only 18 hours of downwind sailing on the qualifying tour but, on Saturday, will head off on the Auckland-Fiji yacht race. The crew will then take an extended sail back to Auckland, doing more testing, before heading off to Europe in July for the start of the Volvo race from Alicante, Spain, in October.

The other unusual thing about Camper is the openness with which ETNZ have made Camper available. Often in such events, some teams like to hold back boat details which can tip others off about performance but ETNZ's tour of New Zealand threw the boat open to onlookers.

"We decided on a path that we wanted to take and, really, all the clever work was done about a year ago. So now it's all about staying on that path and making sure things are working right," said Nicholson.

"I don't spend all my time poring over what the other teams are doing. I take an interest and keep an eye on things, of course, but it's really about doing what we do best and getting on with our own job and programme - and if we do that, we will have a successful time."

So is the boat fast? Nicholson, a veteran of three previous Volvos, said: " Yes, it does feel right."