Part B of Leg 3 of the Volvo Ocean Race has got underway with Camper with Emirates Team NZ out to deliver a vastly improved performance in the 3300 mile slog to Sanya, China than their result in the first stage of Leg 3.
The leg restarted from a secret safehaven that can now be revealed as Male in the Maldives after the fleet was shipped across a high risk piracy area from Sharjah in the United Arab Emirates.
In an 8 to 10 knot easterly Camper made a strong start in the upwind conditions leading the fleet out of Male and into what is shaping up to be the most challenging leg to date. The 3300 nautical mile second stage to China sees the fleet finally return to more familiar ocean passage racing after the unusual stop-start schedule resulting from the race organisers’ anti-piracy course changes.
Early race information showed that Camper was leading a closely bunched fleet with Puma second and Team Sanya in third, sailing at 11-12 kts.
The Leg takes the fleet across the Indian Ocean to the north west tip of Sumatra, down through the congested waters of the Malacca Straits before turning north east for a final gruelling slog through the South China Sea to the finish on the Chinese island of Sanya.
Light to moderate north easterlies are expected for the first 24 hours with the fleet on a tight reach as they head out into the Indian Ocean. However, the equatorial conditions mean that the boats will have to negotiate clouds and squalls, and the associated sail changes and re-trimming of the boat.
Camper skipper Chris Nicholson says that the entire crew is focused on delivering a much better performance and gaining as many points as possible.
'We need to do better end of story and we’ve spent a lot of time over the last few days preparing for this leg, looking at where we can improve our performance and how we can make the most out of the weather patterns ahead.
'Boat and crew are both in great shape and it’s just great to be out sailing and back in proper racing mode after the stop start nature of the last few weeks. I think we’re all looking forward to a true ocean leg rather than the drag race type format we’ve seen recently.
'The next 14 days are looking like they’re going to be very tough but we feel more than ready for it. This stage won’t be won by boat speed, it will be won by being smart and keeping the boat in one piece and going the right way and I rate our ability to do well in those areas.
'If I could use one word to describe this leg it would be ‘worrying’ and I think the range of conditions and obstacles it will present means that it won’t be decided until the closing stages.'
The fleet is expected to arrive into Sanya in early February.