Camper has made a strong start to the second stage of the third leg of the Volvo Ocean Race.

Due to the piracy risk, the leg restarted from a secret safe haven - now revealed as Male in the Maldives - for the 3300 nautical mile stage to Sanya in China.

In an 8-10 knot easterly Camper made a good start in the upwind conditions, leading the fleet out of Male and into what is shaping up to be the most challenging leg to date.

This morning (NZ time), Camper was in second place, narrowly trailing Puma.


The leg takes the fleet across the Indian Ocean to the north west tip of Sumatra, down through the congested waters of the Malacca Straits before turning north east for a final gruelling slog through the South China Sea to the finish on the island of Sanya.

Light to moderate north easterlies are expected for the first 24 hours with the fleet on a tight reach as they head out into the Indian Ocean. However, the equatorial conditions mean that the boats will have to negotiate clouds and squalls, and the associated sail changes and retrimming of the boat.

Camper skipper Chris Nicholson said the crew was focused on a better performance and gaining as many points as possible.

"We need to do better, end of story, and we've spent a lot of time over the last few days preparing for this leg, looking at where we can improve our performance and how we can make the most out of the weather patterns ahead," he said.

"Boat and crew are both in great shape and it's just great to be out sailing and back in proper racing mode after the stop start nature of the last few weeks. I think we're all looking forward to a true ocean leg rather than the drag race type format we've seen recently.

"The next 14 days are looking like they're going to be very tough but we feel more than ready for it. This stage won't be won by boat speed, it will be won by being smart and keeping the boat in one piece and going the right way and I rate our ability to do well in those areas.

"If I could use one word to describe this leg it would be 'worrying' and I think the range of conditions and obstacles it will present means that it won't be decided until the closing stages."

The fleet is expected to arrive at Sanya in early February.

While many of Camper's competitors have suffered damage in the race - Abu Dhabi and PUMA breaking their masts and Sanya with a hole in their bow and rigging damage - Nicholson's Marcelino Botin-designed yacht has remained strong.

Nicholson said the strength of his yacht was the reason why the team had made very few changes ahead of this leg which started last night.