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Volvo Ocean Race- Camper's Tack Fest to China

by Camper Media on 4 Feb 2012
Rob Salthouse and Chris Nicholson grind hard as they put a reef in the mainsail as Stu Bannatyne drives onboard Camper with Emirates Team New Zealand during leg 3 of the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12, from Abu Dhabi, UAE to Sanya, China. Hamish Hooper/Camper ETNZ/Volvo Ocean Race©

For the past 24 hours Camper has been tacking up the Vietnamese coast avoiding hundreds of fishing boats, debris and uncharted marks and islands. For navigator Will Oxley the final tack away from Vietnam coast came with a huge amount of relief:

'With poor quality charting, multitudes of unlit fishing vessels and miles of nets, not to mention shallow wrecks from the war, the potential for disaster was high. We had some very near misses and ended up hooking up fishing gear a couple of times.'

The constant manoevering of the boat is exhausting for for the crew as well with relentless sail changes and shifting of sails and equipment with each tack.

Media Crew Member Hamish Hooper, sums up the experience from onboard:

'I lost count of the number of tacks [we made] early into last night. Each tack on these boats is an exhaustive process, its not just turning the helm, easing some sheets and pulling on other ones. It can take up to 20 minutes to just get set for the tack moving around 4 tonnes above and below deck; sails, spares, personal gear, food and any and everything else that is movable on the boat.
This has pretty much been the life onboard for the last 24 hours. It’s not hard to equate lots of tacking to very little, if not any sleep. There are a lot of heavy, red eyes around this morning. But that’s just how hard all of the guys are pushing this last stretch of the leg, and how hungry they are to get as far up the leaderboard as possible, there is certainly no lack of desire to win onboard Camper.'

'Tacking up the coast from Vietnam in the dark was literally running a gauntlet of sandbanks, wrecks and fishing boats and nets. There were hundreds and hundreds of fishing boats all around us the whole way up the coast, everywhere you looked in all directions were fishing boats all with nets ranging from maybe a hundred metres to many miles long. It amazes me that there are even any fish left in the waters here.'

Camper still has her sights firmly set on clawing back the miles on the leading boat over what remains of the race track and with darkness approaching in the South China Sea, the crew are hanging on every poll to see just how much they can get back in touch with the front runners.
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