Camper, crewed by Emirates Team NZ have been chewing up the miles on its way to Cape Town with the boat reaching speeds of between 25 - 30 knots and reducing the distance to the Leg One finish to 670 miles.
Yesterday the boat travelled a staggering 551 miles in 24 hours, and at one stage the 24-hour monohull speed record (597nm) looked as if it might be on the cards. Camper was slowed by a fishing net that got caught around the keel and forced the boat to stop, the boys unfortunately fell short of their target.
An eventful week, which started with Mike Pammenter suffering a mouth injury resulting in a lost tooth and damage to two others after being swept across the desk, has ended on a positive note with the boat showing its true potential in fast downwind sailing. It really has been a case of what might have been for skipper Chris Nicholson and crew who have paid the penalty for their choice of routing earlier in the leg. 'We made an error early in on the leg and we’ve paid for it ever since,' he explained. With a 150-mile advantage over CAMPER, Telefónica are on course to be first into Cape Town, but as we have already seen in this leg with three of the six-boat fleet having retired, anything can happen.
Nicholson said Camper has shown its full force in the recent fast conditions, which has seen them sail in the same frontal system as their competitors Telefónica for the first time. Nicholson has been greatly encouraged by the boat’s speed in the last few days. Speaking on Thursday evening, he said: 'Today we were in the same breeze, the same weather pattern as the leaders Telefonica, we were able to beat them today sched for sched. To me that’s by far the highlight of this leg. The boat is pretty robust in these (fast) conditions. We don’t have a massive job list, touch wood we should get to Cape Town in one piece, with a good foundation to be second and we still have eight months of racing left to go'.
A runner up spot in Leg One would leave Camper in second place on the leaderboard on 29 points, two behind Telefónica assuming they maintain their lead. With points up for grabs in the Cape Town In Port race, Camper could even find themselves leading the race by the time the fleet departs for the second leg to Abu Dhabi. Fingers crossed.
After a very challenging week, media crew member Hamish Hooper can’t wait to get to Cape Town. 'We are all more than ready to get there now and see our loved ones and sleep for a full night in a proper dry bed, have a shave and a shower and eat awesome food, and feel normal again,' he said.
Camper are expected to finish about 12 hours after Telefónica, crossing the line at around 0300 UTC on Sunday morning local time in Cape Town.
Co-skipper/ watch captain Stu Bannatyne - Stu talks about the last 24 hours, a 550 mile day and the challenges of sailing at night
'It's been very nice sailing, little bit of a confused sea state, but good breeze around 23 - 25 knots most of the time occasional puffs up into the high twenties. But it looks like we're coming close to the end of our run on port tack. Which has been going on essentially since the northern hemisphere!
I'm sure there are a few crew who are looking forward to straining the other side of their bodies! The sailing has been really nice, just a fractional spinnaker on a reef in the main we're averaging 22 - 23 knots most of the time. I think we've knocked out a 550 mile run so that's not a bad opener'. Listen to the full interview here