Camper skipper, Chris Nicholson reflects on the first week of the Volvo Ocean Race and the highs and lows faced by the Emirates Team NZ crewed entry.
Well we always knew that this was going to be a tough race and the first week has left this in no doubt. Conditions have been extreme and taken their toll, but at the same time some poor decisions on our behalf have made things even tougher than they need to be.
It is fair to say that to date this has been anything but a typical leg one. The 20-40 knot conditions for the first day were boat breaking conditions and this was vividly demonstrated with Abu Dhabi’s dismasting and Sanya’s hull damage. I’ve been in that position before and my thoughts really go out to the guys on both boats – it’s not a nice place to be.
From Camper’s perspective I was really pleased with our performance in those first 24 hours. Both boat and crew came through it well and it was nice to take a moderate lead into the Atlantic.
However, some indecisiveness on our behalf resulted in us failing to capitalise on that lead and slipping back to last as the fleet made its way south. There’s no doubt we made a bad decision and it’s frustrating as all hell but it was a tough situation to call.
Roberto Bermudez de Castro and crew weathers the storm 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
As we left the Med is was a borderline decision whether to go west or stick inshore. Initially it looked like the best option was to try and make for the dying trade winds on the African coast, but in the end we had to modify the game plan and go west. This put us on the back foot with Telefonica and Puma and we’ve been playing catch-up ever since.
Nobody on this boat likes being at the back of the fleet. We know that as a team we’re much better than that and we’re 100% focused on fighting our way back up the leaderboard. The approach to the doldrums offers some potential passing lanes and we’re determined to identify those and make the most of them. There are a lot of miles left in this leg and we’re determined to get back into it.
Watch this space.