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Bakewell-White Yacht Design

Volvo Ocean Race- Camper's Mr Smooth comes into his own

by Hamish Hooper on 26 Mar 2012
Tony Rae nursing Camper through monster Southern Ocean waves during Leg 5 of the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12, from Auckland, New Zealand to Itajai, Brazil. Hamish Hooper/Camper ETNZ/Volvo Ocean Race©

MCM Hamish Hooper www.etnzblog.com!blogs from on board Camper as she cruises towards Puerto Montt, Chile to effect repairs to her structural framing:

Things certainly aren’t getting any easier onboard Camper.

Last night as we were sailing along trying to keep the boat slow and under control we managed to pop the starboard longitudinal. The fourth-big blow we have had in a row. With each new blow things become that much harder and fragile.

Rob Salthouse deserves a knighthood, he has basically been working in the bow completely covered in carbon dust for 4 days now, with the slightest of sleep between fixing things and them breaking again.

His trusty sidekick Mike Pammenter has been right alongside him doing all he can to help keep things together.

Their patience is wearing very thin, but their perseverance is not.


The guys are rolling through their delivery watches of two on deck and two on standby, the main job of the person on the helm is to be as gentle on the boat as possible, minimize any bumps and do anything to avoid hard landings.

He might not have the softest hands but Trae seems to have the softest touch when on the wheel, so I have reverted to calling him Mr. Smooth.

No matter who is driving though, each big bump completely reverberates through the whole boat and you shoot a glance forward to the bow to see if all remains intact.

With more time on their hands the guys are getting a bit more creative with what they eat. They have turned one of my precious kettle’s into a make shift fry pan, all after Chuny discovered a fresh calamari squid on the deck, seasoned it with salt, pepper and olive oil and created a right delicacy for the guys. From there cans of tuna and tortillas have been thrown on for variety. I have had to be a bit of a Grinch though as I am not sure we have the gas to continue the onboard Master Chef trials.


The media station onboard has again been transformed into the ‘internet café’ as all of the guys keep in touch with families about what is happening. Its times like these that that small contact with the outside world, which seems so far away gives such a boost to everyone.

For now we continue eastward towards Chile, but looking for ways to avoid a low system, which is forming and likely to intercept us half way there. When in full fitness that is exactly the weather we want to encounter, but wounded, it’s far from the desired calm flat water we want.

I guess it’s yet another challenge we must over come to reach our primary goal of just getting to land.

And so we limp on.


Golden Quote: 'We appear to have the right combination now to keep the longitudinals intact it has taken some time as this is not and exact science when the boat is not 100% operational. We are looking to the future getting to Chile and getting the boat back in racing order to resume our leg to Itajai.' Chris Nicholson

For more on Camper see www.etnzblog.com

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