It’s been a long time coming, but finally Camper with Emirates Team New Zealand have picked up a leg win in the 2011-2012 Volvo Ocean Race.
After 485 nautical miles (898km) of extremely intense racing, they crossed the finish line of the ninth and final offshore leg in Galway, Ireland, at around 12:45pm NZT today, barely 1 nautical mile (1.8km) ahead of overall race winners Groupama.
The fleet set out from Lorient in north-western France in heavy reaching conditions, not typically Camper’s strongest point of sail. Yet the Kiwi/Spanish entry held their own against the quicker Juan Kouyoumdjian-designed Groupama, Puma and Telefonica. As the leg progressed, the breeze swung round, and for the final stretch, the big red boat was able to show their strength in downwind conditions. This, the shortest and most closely contested leg, saw many changes of lead, with the top four boats remaining in sight of one another from start to finish. They rounded the infamous Fastnet Rock, approximately 80nm from the finish, within six minutes of each other.
Camper skipper Chris Nicholson and navigator Will Oxley played their cards in the final leg to perfection. Their ace, in the form of their inshore A4 running gennaker, was the perfect sail for the light downwind finish, trumping the hands of the other crews and securing the maximum 30 points for the leg.
With Groupama finishing second, Puma third and Telefonica fourth, Camper leapfrogged Puma on the points table to take second place overall for the race, needing only to finish the Galway in-port race, on Saturday July 7 to take home the silver medal. Groupama, who needed only to finish in the top four to secure an overall win, now stand as clear winners regardless of what happens in the upcoming in-port race.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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