Camper Takes the Lead
Team New Zealand's round the world yacht Camper has pulled off a stunning comeback to snatch the lead on leg seven to Portugal. Two days ago, Chris Nicholson's Camper was almost 100 miles behind the leaders and facing disaster on a leg crucial to the outcome of the Volvo Ocean Race.
Nicholson and navigator Will Oxley split from the fleet and headed north to reap the benefits of better winds and marched to the lead. Now, Camper has a 12-mile lead over the improved Abu Dhabi and overall leader Telefonica has slipped to third. The fleet is spread over 75 miles and Camper is at the right end.
Now, they await a new weather system for a downwind to Portugal with the leg expected to finish on Friday.
"Will's and Nico's long-laboured and meticulously conjured up plan to head north and split from the fleet paid big dividends," Camper crew member Hamish Hooper said.
"It's a nice feeling going from one wrong extreme to the right one, but by no means anything to get too carried away with other than a quiet grin and momentary warm sense of satisfaction for the guys who have all been toiling away quietly and focused, sailing the boat to its optimum from a point two days ago where a lot of other teams might have just given up."
Nicholson was just as keen to put things into perspective in this incredibly competitive fleet: "There's a lot of variable weather going on in this leg and not all of it is panning out for some people. It all makes for a very unstable leaderboard."
The fleet, having to change tactics to chase Camper's bold and successful move, was still pushing north-east trying to skirt a high pressure system.
"Somehow we need to hang in for the next 24 hours when conditions will once again open up and the fast downwind sail towards Lisbon will begin," Abu Dhabi skipper Ian Walker said.
Camper's main rivals on the points table were all looking at ways to get back into this leg which is nearing the halfway stage.
"Basically, we couldn't do anything to avoid these guys overtaking us," Telefónica skipper Iker Martínez said of Camper. "They just rolled us with a completely different wind.
"Now we are just in the moment that should stop this loss because a new wind is coming again and something different is going to happen.
We just hope that we're going to stop losing and start racing again to make gains."
Groupama skipper Franck Cammas was equally optimistic about their chances of a fight back.
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