The Volvo Ocean race entry, Camper, sailed by Emirates Team NZ started the 2011 Auckland-Musket Cove, Fiji Race with the objective of getting in some serious, fast downwind sailing.
Instead they have found themselves in a a trans-oceanic match race, with a big separation between them and their opponent, Simon Hull's ORMA60 TeamVodafoneSailing.
In theory the 60ft trimaran should have just stretched her legs and headed over the horizon soon after the race start.
However light winds and fast moving pressure systems have created an ocean match race which is testing Camper's navigational and routing capability in a way which could only be done in the Volvo Ocean Race itself.
The on the water positions of the leaders in the 2011 Auckland - Musket Cove Race as of 2030hrs 6 June 2011. Camper is closest to the yellow rhumb line. TVS is the trimaran to the east (right) and Wired is between the two yachts. - RNZYS Media©
While all the predictions point to TVS taking the race quite comfortably, she is currently 52nm behind Camper and the margin is increasing. So the challenge for Chris Nicholson and his crew aboard Camper is to try and do the impossible and beat TVS to the finish in Musket Cove, or at least stay ahead of her for as long as possible.
Camper has increased her lead by about 30nm from noon to 2030, Monday evening.
Following the weather routing advice for a boat of her type, an ORMA60 trimaran, TVS has been working to the east looking for fresher breezes, but instead she has found the period of light airs is just stretching and she has more before the conditions improve.
Her route is now prescribed to be more conservative, coming back more into the rhumb line, or direct route for Fiji rather than continuing east.
That contrasts with the prognosis for Camper which sees her staying close to the rhumb line and then moving east and west of it for her final run to Musket Cove.
However it is not cut and dried with a period of light airs coming up over the next few hours maybe more than a day, before the windstrength increases.
Predictwind’s route options for Camper as of 2030hrs on 6 June 2011 - Auckland Musket Cove, Fiji Race - PredictWind.com?nid=84374
Predictwind has TVS finishing in about 2days 18 hours time, as of 2030hrs on 06 June 2011. But the gap for Camper has closed with Predictwind picking a finish time of 3 days 5 hours for the 70fter.
From route options, the position points are approximately 3-4 hours apart. The periods when the two boats will be sailing in light airs is plainly visible, as the distance between the dot/position points is very narrow, indicating a slow speed/distance sailed.
In the later stage of the race the distance increases between the period as the wind speeds increase and the boat speed also clicks up.
The Bakewell-White designed 52fter, Wired (Rob Bassett) is putting up a very good fight, and is within three miles of TVS and sailing at 8.3kts - the same as Camper, while TVS has been sailing at an average of 5.10kts since the last report - explaining her big slip behind the race leader today.
Progress can be viewed on the Vodafone Play website click here to go straight to the full screen version. If you are using on an iPhone, please tilt the device horizontally to get the ideal view of both screens. You can wind back the display to follow her progress on the map and accompanying time-lapse pictures as she starts, and then exits the Hauraki Gulf. Now TVS has left 3G coverage only her boat position and actual speed is shown on the display.
Predictwind’s route options for TeamVodafoneSailing as of 2030hrs on 6 June 2011 - Auckland Musket Cove, Fiji Race - PredictWind.com?nid=84374
Or, you can follow the whole fleet on the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron website www.rnzys.org.nz or click here?nid=84374 to go straight to the Yellowbrick tracker and zoom in to see the individual race yacht's positions updated every 20 minutes.