Camper will divert to Puerto Montt on the west coast of Chile to repair damage suffered in the ferocious conditions currently being experienced in the Southern Ocean.
Camper with Emirates Team New Zealand skipper Chris Nicholson confirmed the need to go in for repairs, while pledging to resume racing and reach the finish of Leg 5 Itajaí in Brazil.
'We are 2,500 nautical miles away from where we are going, which is Puerto Montt in Chile, on the western coast,' skipper Chris Nicholson said. 'It’s about 800 nautical miles north of Cape Horn.
'What lead us to this course is I guess like a classic Southern Ocean snowball effect where we had some problems with our bulkhead early on in the race, we repaired that only for that repair to fail again probably about three days ago.
'Then we were trying to stem the flow in terms of stopping the problem getting any worse. The bulkhead offers a lot of support to our longitudinals (hull supports) and we have to keep the longitudinals intact.
'Unfortunately some of the secondary bonding let go off the longitudinal and that’s basically when seamanship has to take over and basically call enough is enough.
'We are running out of spare materials to effect repairs at sea and the repairs are struggling to be effective so we had to slow the boat down immediately and assess the situation.
'We estimate it will be three days of repairs and then we will be on our way to Itajaí. So we will suspend racing once we get closer to Puerto Montt, do our repairs and get back in the race.'
Puerto Montt is a port city in southern Chile,and had a population of 175,938 in 2002. The town grew significantly due to the rise of Chile as the second largest salmon producer of the world during the 1990s and 2000s. However in 2007 production dropped to 25% of the original levels after the fish were hit by disease and are not expected to recover for another two years, creating significant local unemployment.
Camper is estimated to take over six days to reach Puerto Montt and will arrive on 1 April UTC.
Puerto Montt with the two volcanoes in the background -
A statement issued by Team New Zealand, says that after conducting a full assessment of the bow damage suffered 24 hours ago Camper with Emirates Team New Zealand has decided that the damage is too significant to repair at sea and therefore will need to make a brief stop at the Chilean port of Puerto Montt to carry out a permanent repair.
Exact details are still being worked through but the current intention is to suspend racing when close to Puerto Montt.
Camper is not withdrawing from Leg Five and after completing repairs will resume racing from where it was suspended.
Spirits remain high aboard and all crew are focused on getting back into racing as soon as possible. Skipper Chris Nicolson said from the yacht: 'This is the only option that is satisfactory to us from a safety perspective, but also keeps us in the race. It’s a hard decision to make but we are all in good spirits. As we have said in the past the Southern Ocean throws up the best and worst days of your life - recent days certainly haven’t been the best days but we will get through this uninjured and ready to continue in the race.'
After leading the fleet two days ago, Camper is believed to have aggravated damage to a bulkhead, initially damaged on the first night out of Auckland. The damage was repaired a couple of days later when the yacht was in a patch of lighter weather, however the strong winds of the roaring forties and fifties and pounding of the hull in four to seven metre seas too its toll. The repair failed about three days ago, after they came off a big wave, popping the port longitudinal over a considerable length.
It is estimated that the repairs will take three days, at which time she will resume racing.