Camper skipper Chris Nicholson has taken his team to the lead of the Volvo Ocean Race Leg 3 Stage 2 charge to China.
Camper’s 8.7 nautical mile (nm) lead at 10000 UTC this morning is the result of a frenzy of overnight activity and some very accurate timing.
Last night was full of action when the breeze shifted dramatically from north to east at around 2100 UTC. All six boats racing in Leg 3 of the Volvo Ocean Race towards the entrance to the Malacca Strait were forced to tack, resulting in a reshuffle of the pack. While Camper with Emirates Team New Zealand were enjoying the lead this morning, Groupama 4 (Franck Cammas/FRA) had moved up to second with Puma's Mar Mostro (Ken Read/USA) in third, 10.5 nautical miles behind the front runners.
Camper is now nicely positioned on the right hand side of the course and the crew is ready to tack back onto starboard the moment the breeze moves right a further 30 – 50 degrees, a change in wind direction which will be caused by a low in the lee of Sumatra. When the move comes, Nicholson will aim to cross ahead of the fleet and lead into the Malacca Strait. However, before this can occur in 10-15 hours’ time, the fleet will have fast reaching conditions, which could play into the hands of Team Telefónica, currently in fourth place.
Telefónica (Iker Martínez/ESP) has shown some astonishing boat speed in the past two days. Martínez has been forced to take risks to make gains due to the damage sustained earlier in the course, which put the team on the back foot. His continued move to the north has given the team a great deal of separation, however their superior boat speed could make it a close call for the leading spot in the next 36 hours.
'The navigators are all scratching their heads as the grib files are far from dealing with the present situation – the winds are 40 degrees out on the current direction,' said Camper’s navigator Will Oxley.
At 0200 UTC this morning, Puma’s Mar Mostro was the most leeward of the fleet, with Groupama 4, Camper, and Telefónica all in sight and slightly behind, but by day break the crew found themselves as the most windward boat in a significant right hand shift.
All six boats have now tacked back onto port with a lateral separation of 63 nm between Telefónica in the north and sixth placed Sanya (Mike Sanderson/NZL) in the south.
Ian Walker and Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing’s Azzam are in fifth position. 'The bad news,' says Ian Walker, 'is that this shift now puts Pulau We, our next waypoint, 340 nm dead upwind rather on our bow. Oh well! Another extra day at sea!'
Volvo Ocean Race website