by Thomas Pryor and Sail-world on 3 Mar 2012
Tony Rae, winces with pain in his ribs as he gets changed to go on watch onboard Camper during leg 4 of the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12, from Sanya, China to Auckland, New Zealand. Hamish Hooper/Camper ETNZ/Volvo Ocean Race©
As the fleet eases down through the Solomon Islands group they are encountering squall lines packing gusts of wind in excess of 35 knots and rain filled thunder clouds that can significantly help or hinder progress.
Camper was due to cross the Equator this morning and is hoping the unpredictable conditions will deliver some much need gains on the fleet.
Camper remains in fourth place, 140 nautical miles off the pace but with still over 2000 miles to go to Auckland the potential for the Doldrums to deliver large gains and losses and the tricky conditions around New Caledonia are seen by the team as key opportunities to get back into the game.
With Camper on the verge of crossing the Equator temperatures have been slowly increasing aboard with the hot and stick conditions making for uncomfortable sailing for the crew.
Camper co-skipper Stu Bannatyne says that Camper are looking to make the most of the unpredictable tropical conditions.
'These thunder clouds pack a huge amount of power so you have to be constantly monitoring them to get the most out of them and avoid any potential damage, which is not what we need right now.