Camper are looking to the Doldrums as a chance to make gains on the four leading boats on the fourth leg of the Volvo Ocean Race as they look to claw their way back into the race to Auckland.

The Team New Zealand boat has had a wretched time recently, not helped by sail damage which cost them badly, and they are currently fifth, 128 miles behind leader Groupama. They are desperate to dock in Auckland first after a difficult race so far.

After several days of fast and furious reaching in the north-east trades, the fleet will shortly cross the potentially tricky Doldrums zone as they pass by the Solomon Islands and move from the north-east trader to the south-east trades.

The transition zone doesn't look as defined as what they encountered on the first two legs of the race but frequent squalls, wind shadows and large cloud systems still offer plenty of opportunities to make big gains and cause a reshuffle in the leaderboard.


The Doldrums aren't the only challenges awaiting the fleet with with major decisions needing to be made on whether to take a more easterly or westerly route to New Zealand and how to deal with the approach to New Caledonia and the large wind shadow that it casts.

Camper skipper Chris Nicholson said that after steadily losing ground to boats in more easterly positions, he's looking forward to more even playing ground.

"It hasn't been nice being overtaken on both sides," he said. "The sail damage [to our headsail] cost us a lot of miles but, unfortunately, we're also just not quite as fast as some of the other boats in tight reaching conditions. So it's definitely going to be a relief to get out of this drag race and see if we can make the most of the passing lanes coming up.

"We did pretty well getting through the Doldrums in leg two and pulled back a lot of miles so we're looking to do that again.

"There's still a long way to go with a pretty complicated weather outlook for the rest of the leg so anything could happen and we're absolutely focused on getting back into this race."