The Spanish/New Zealand entry in the Volvo Ocean Race has won Leg 9 of the Volvo Ocean Race, crossing the finish line at 0100UTC, in Galway, Ireland.
Groupama (Franck Cammas) finished second behind Camper, assuring the French team of her overall win in the 39,000nm classic.
Her first win in nine legs, all but assures Camper of second place overall in the Volvo Ocean Race, giving her a six point margin over Puma Ocean Racing (Ken Read) who is expected to finish third into Galway, with Telefonica (Iker Martinez) fourth over the line and on overall points.
The win reversed a series of narrow losses for the Camper team, where they had been pipped on the finish line three times - costing 15 vital points.
That would not have made a difference to the overall result, which is a superb effort for Franck Cammas and his crew, who aside from a disappointing opening leg (finishing third), sailed very well, and improved as the race progressed. As the pressure went on in the final stages Groupama rose above the rest.
Even in adversity, such as dropping her mast on the final stage of Leg 5, into Brazil, when they suspended racing and finished under jury rig was a low and high point for the team.
Having the most experience in Round the World racing - of the Jule Verne Trophy style - Cammas is a former record holder for the fastest boat around the planet, and knew when to push, and when to button off when required. It was probably that ability that set Groupama from the rest, all of whom suffered major setbacks at some stage of the race. Cammas had his setback too, on Leg 5, but that was minimised.
For Camper, the win is a monkey off their back. Now, in nine legs, there have been five winners - and Camper was the last to score maximum points. Again the experience of the round the world team paid a dividend on the final leg, with a strategy of lightening and carefully stacking the sails in the boat, to optimise righting moment.
That was underlined at the start of the Leg when a penalty dropped Camper back to last. However she was able to power through the fleet, as never before, and got into second place - which she was able to hold her own against other boats which are considered to be faster.
To perhaps further underscore the closeness of the racing was revealed in the projected finish time from Predictwind, where just a few minutes covered the finish times for the first four boats - from a position several hours out. Often we have seen that result predicted, and so often there have been critical place changes right on the finish line.
Camper should finish second overall in the Volvo Ocean Race if she can get just one point out of the final InPort race in Galway on Saturday.
For Ken Read and his team on Puma Ocean Racing, a third, with Camper winning is a bitterly disappointing result. And to be honest - the last in a string of disappointments. The first being the loss of the rig on Leg 1, another being the loss of the second 'InPort' race in China, and now third (with Camper leading) into Galway. For all their downs, Ken Read has performed outstandingly as a leader, and his crew have followed through some dreadful adversity. Leaving Miami, there was a good chance that Puma could have won the overall race, despite, incredibly, not finishing a leg. The fact that they came within an ace of taking second overall - scoring only eight legs to the others nine, is amazing. Their ability to bounce back from adversity, outwardly smiling, but inwardly bleeding is an example to all in sailing - young and old - and represents an attitude that is all too rare in professional sport.
Telefonica's , fourth place will be extremely disappointing, given they won the first three legs. But their race fell apart heading into Lorient, when they had to beat Groupama, and but instead broke both rudders in the final hours leading to the finish. The fact that the Spanish entry could slip from the lead mid-race to fourth, underlines the closeness of the race, especially amongst the top four boats.
A very close sight of Camper with Emirates Team New Zealand onboard Groupama Sailing Team during leg 9 of the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12, from Lorient, France to Galway, Ireland. - Yann Riou Click Here to view large photo
Last sleep below deck onboard Team Sanya during leg 9 of the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12, from Lorient, France to Galway, Ireland. - Andrés Soriano/Team Sanya/Volvo Click Here to view large photo