Hamish Hooper blogs from on board Camper sailed by Emirates Team NZ:
My first thought of the day as I woke was that the overseas voting for the New Zealand elections had opened. This is great news, elections are so exciting! I love the drama of election night!
The trouble is, I’m not really sure how getting voting papers to the Kiwis on board CAMPER in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean will work?
Another thought of substance that occurred to me today was that I am stuck on a 70ft red missile surrounded by 10 fanatics in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean.
Finally we hooked into the weather system that we have been aiming for days now, wondering if it would ever come. It has, and they guys are loving it.
Tony Rae and Daryl Wislang repair a torn sail onboard CAMPER with Emirates Team New Zealand during leg 1 of the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12 - Hamish Hooper/Camper ETNZ/Volvo Ocean Race© Click Here to view large photo
We have 20- 25 knots from the north-west, and we are heading south.
To call them fanatics might seem a little over the top, but now you really see these 10 sailors operating at their peak. These guys are serious professionals that are seriously good at what they do. Some of the best in the world, (which is a comforting thought for me.)
Like the speed dial lighting up with speeds at times touching the excess of 28 knots boat speed, so do their faces,
'This is what these boats are made for!' said Will Oxley as I sat in the nav station with him watching the miles tick down so effortlessly.
It’s not so much craziness that drives these guys so hard – it’s simply and purely their desire to win.
The last few days have been full of frustration, and I know it’s because we aren’t at the front of the pack. And the fact that these are the conditions the guys actually sail VO70’s for, not for upwind or no-wind sailing, but for hard and fast downhill running – and they get a big kick from it.
Crew encountering yet more frustrating light breeze onboard CAMPER with Emirates Team New Zealand during leg 1 of the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12 - Hamish Hooper/Camper ETNZ/Volvo Ocean Race© Click Here to view large photo
It seems that this race opens the world’s oceans to become the sailors’ office, their home and their playground. Somehow I have ended up in the middle of it and bailing a lot of water in the process.
I tell Stu Bannatyne my thoughts of the day,
'This is nothing', he laughs, 'You just wait until we get some decent breeze!
He pauses with thought, 'The elections… cool- how will we vote?'
Camper with Emirates Team New Zealand has finally found the breeze the crew had been looking for several agonising days.
Most recent position reports show the team to be making rapid progress. From a position more than 250 nautical miles behind fleet leader Groupama, Camper had cut that back to just over 200 miles.
Navigator Will Oxley on the look out for breeze again onboard CAMPER with Emirates Team New Zealand during leg 1 of the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12 - Hamish Hooper/Camper ETNZ/Volvo Ocean Race© Click Here to view large photo
Groupama had carried the breeze down the African coast, but now seems to be losing momentum as the three yachts in the west – Puma, Telefonica and Camper – pick up a breeze of 20 knots plus from the north- west.
CAMPER has also advanced on Puma and Telefonica, and is now less than 40 miles astern, having clawed back 56 miles in six hours.
Skipper Chris Nicholson: ' Tonight CAMPER gained 28 nm in the period 1600 – 1900 and snatched back another 28 nm in the three hours leading up to the 2200 UTC report.'
Race headquarters reported that Nicholson had elected to take the inside track, 41 nautical miles (nm) to leeward of the two opponents in the west. PUMA has upped its performance and taken 18 nm out of the leader, relegating Telefónica ) to third place, three miles astern.
'But it’s not looking quite so sweet for Franck Cammas and his team on Groupama 4 as they continue creeping along the shore towards the Cape Verde Islands at around 12 knots, sailing dead downwind.
'However, they are still ahead of the chasing pack, 28 nm off the southernmost tip of Western Sahara and 486 nm from the Cape Verde Islands, which they will leave to port. Beyond the Cape Verdes is a vast windless zone, which they will need to avoid at all costs.
'For the first time in this 6500 nautical mile to Cape Town, we are starting to see some improved 24-hour runs after days of light airs and very little progress.'
Daryl Wislang sewing the damaged sail to repair it onboard CAMPER with Emirates Team New Zealand during leg 1 of the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12 - Hamish Hooper/Camper ETNZ/Volvo Ocean Race© Click Here to view large photo