Volvo Ocean Race 10.8 nautical mile, two lap Haitang Bay In-Port Race was held on Saturday 18th February in Sanya. It was not Camper’s day for the In-Port race.
The shifty conditions got the better of Nicholson and his crew who, after a great start leading the fleet off the line, chose the left hand side of the course. This proved to be a critical decision with the wind shifting to the right and the fleet were split in two. Camper, Groupama and Sanya were left battling at the back. It was a battle that Spanish/New Zealand boat won pulling back two spots to claim fourth overall and salvage an additional two points on the leaderboard.
Speaking on the dock Nicholson commented, 'We wanted to do better than that today, we got out of the start in good shape, then there was a big shift to the right, which we didn't get onto and we were caught right at the back at the top mark. However we fought our way back through the fleet but there wasn’t enough time to close the gap. I am looking forward to getting going tomorrow, we will have to wait until next leg to get the points back on Telefónica.'
Less than 24 hours remain until the start of leg four, a 5220-mile race to the City of Sails, Auckland in New Zealand. It is viewed as one of the most challenging legs of the race, particularly due to a section of the route, which will see the fleet pass through the Luzon Strait - a gate into the North Pacific. Sitting between Taiwan and the Philippines, it is a narrow passage between high land masses through which wind, current, tide and sea must all flow. The crews will also have to navigate through a minefield of ships and fishing boats. The combinations of northeasterly monsoons from Siberia and Japan, the infamous ‘black stream’ of the Kuroshio Current, which races north along the western part of the North Pacific and the shallow water, tides and the dozens of rocky islands scattered about make up the ingredients for a horrific sea state during a hard and nerve-racking upwind slog. During the last race, half the fleet broke here on their way to Northern China. This Volvo fleet won’t be going north but east, they will have to fight into teeth of the storm, so to speak, before they can round the island of Luzon and break out into the open water of the Pacific.
'This is a big leg there is no doubt about it, so we need to keep it sensible, there is a lot on the line and a very quick turnaround in Auckland, if you do one thing wrong and damage something then you could be looking at missing out on two leg results.' Skipper Chris Nicholson.
Before they reach the Philippines, the initial few days in the South China Sea look anything but inviting. Current forecasts predict the fleet will head into a strong north-easterly surge, with wind strengths between 25 to 35 knots and four to five metre seas.
'There could be the temptation to go hell for leather and make sure you are at the Philippines first, but we are experienced enough to temper that, we know that things can easily go wrong with that kind of attitude. We understand that we want to race to the Philippines, get there first, try and perhaps get a break forward after that, but in order to win this leg we need to keep the boat and the crew in one piece, ' Chris Nicholson. Camper with Emirates Team New Zealand website