Camper co-skipper Chris Nicholson recaps leg eight and looks ahead to the final leg of the Volvo Ocean Race from Lorient to Galway starting on July 1.
What a leg! That would have to be some of the hardest sailing I've done and the most on the edge conditions we've seen in this race. The Southern Ocean was bad but what we had to deal with out there for the last 48 hours took it to another level.
The guys are all battered, bruised and absolutely exhausted. But we're all in one piece, the boat is one piece, we set a new 24 hour distance record for the race and with our second place moved back onto the podium. All in all a good leg and result for the team.
The guys have been just amazing over this leg. We had no dramas all the way here and at times we had over 50 knots and massive seas. To finish second here and get ourselves back on the podium is massive for all sorts of reasons.
It gets us on a nice roll heading into the finish and it's something positive for the team at a vital time. The sailing over the last few days has been hugely exciting and at times a bit scary so to take away the 24 hour record and a solid result is great.
We had to do well in this leg and we did. It shows the fighting spirit of this team - we don't give up and we'll keep fighting as long as there are points on offer. As a team we've had some pretty hard times but managed to stay motivated so it's nice to see things coming together.
We knew we would be on the back foot from the beginning during this leg because of the long stretch of jib reaching down to the Azores, but then we knew there would be some chances in the low pressure.
The guys did a nice job of minimising the damage in that two sail reaching stage and then when the opportunities presented themselves in the low pressure we took them and got the results. We also showed that we've got real speed in downwind conditions.
When you find yourself in 45-50 knots you're just trying to make it through in one piece - forget about the results, you just want to make it through the night, and we did it with good speed. Obviously, everybody is pushing to get here first, but when you look back at the conditions we had you're just glad to get here in one piece.
When you're sending it as hard as what we were it is pretty easy to do serious damage to boat and crew and finish in last place or worse, so I think we got the balance about right.
Everyone's saying they have never been this knocked around. On the last night we had a few moments where we were going at 38 knots down waves in the dark - that's not right. I think I got the record for top speed with 39 knots or so but trust me it's not a record you want.
Looking at the race you have to think Groupama are in with a pretty good shot now for the overall title.
They have got an impressive programme, great speed and nice tactics. But we're going to keep on pushing right to the very end and we're certainly looking to forward the next in-port and leg and moving further up the leaderboard.
There are still plenty of points on offer and we intend to grab as many of them as possible. The boys are taking a well-earned break now and we'll be back on deck next week for the in-port race ready to give it everything.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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