The Volvo Ocean Race crew of Camper with Emirates Team New Zealand are back at sea and in the chase for precious points after repairs to the boat’s bow were completed in Puerto Montt. Structural damage to the boat’s bow was suffered in brutal Southern Ocean conditions that have ravaged the fleet in Leg 5.
The team left the Chilean port at 0600 GMT on Saturday (April 7) and are now making their way towards the point where they suspended racing five days ago, which is 160 nautical miles away. Camper is expected to take up to 14 hours to reach their restart point to Itajai. It is then expected to take them at least 10 days to complete the grueling 2,800 nm voyage around Cape Horn before the finish in Brazil.
Skipper Chris Nicholson hailed the heroic efforts of the shore team for putting the boat back in the frame.
'It’s been a short but very beneficial stop for us. We now commence the final 2800 miles back with a boat we have full confidence in to take us around Cape Horn,' he said.
'It’s hard to put into words the effort and commitment of our shore team; they simply gave up on sleep during our four-day stopover. They knocked out the highest quality work, and there was never a complaint. These are the people that keep these programmes on track. We simply cannot thank them enough.'
Nicholson was deeply touched by the warmth and generosity of the Chilean locals.
'They went out of their way to try and help us; they even took us into their home to feed a very hungry Camper crew,' he said. 'We leave here with fond memories of the country and of the people.'
'At this stage the weather looks okay, but it will be a big push from the entire team so that we are ready for the next leg of the race,' he added.
For finishing in fourth place Camper will claim 15 precious points that will soften the blow of a punishing leg. It will also leave them within 28 points of current race leader Team Telefonica, a gap that can be closed quickly with 30 points on offer for a leg win.
On Friday, Puma posted their first leg win of the 2011-12 Volvo Ocean Race after holding off a late surge from Telefonica. Groupama, who dismasted on April 4 and had to stop in Punta Del Este, Uruguay for repairs are likely to clinch third spot.
Writing in the social media, Chris Nicholson summed up their stay, this way:
It has been roughly 4 days since we arrived in Porto Montt. It seems like we have been here a hell of a lot longer than that when you look at the friends we have made, the quantity of meat we have eaten and especially the work that has been done on the boat by our superhuman shore crew.
I am sure they have absolutely no concept of how long they have been anywhere- or even where they are. In the roughly 90 hours of work they have put in on the boat from the moment we arrived to the time the lines were cast off in the early hours of this morning they have had a meager three hours sleep- basically 1 hour for every 30 hours worked. In the final 24 hours of their marathon effort I was expecting to see 6 carbon covered zombies, instead they had the relatively fresh appearance of someone with a mild hangover, still focused, smiling- but covered in carbon.
I am sure for a lesser shore crew, the work that needed to be done in the given time frame would simply have been deemed ‘impossible’. I am not sure Coxy knows the meaning of that word. The work they have done has been amazing, it is really quite hard to believe and I can assure you the sailing team are hugely grateful for the efforts they have put in. I hope they don’t have a flight out of Porto Montt booked for a few days because they wont be anywhere other than in a deep slumber for quite some time.
The hospitality that has been shown to us by the local businesses, people, and kiwi expats has been unreal. The highlight of leg 5 for all of us was being invited into the stunning home of a local Salmon industry merchant who hosted the most amazing evening of food, song and laughter for the team and his friends. It’s the best the guys have ever and will ever eat mid leg in an off shore sailboat race. An abundance of salmon, oysters, meat, and of course cake. The guys are already at me to put as much love and effort into the food on the boat as was shown that night…
I always maintain that you never really experience a foreign country until you are invited into the home of a local. So for all of the guys it was a very special moment where we could forget about the hardships and struggles of this leg that we are still a long way from finishing for just one evening. Especially so, when the Chileans and kiwis traded rousing national anthems across the room at each other… this was another moment in this whole campaign I thank my lucky stars we have Tony Rae on our team!
As I say we are still a long way from finishing this leg, but taking stock of where we were and where we are now things are a lot more positive. We are now resuming our adventure heading for Cape Horn in a fixed boat feeling half refreshed, clean and confident- which is a long way from being in a damaged boat in 40 knot winds and 10 metre seas as far away from land as is possible. With the only comforting factors being Salty and Mike fixing the boat, the guys around me and of course Inmarsat domes on the back of the boat like a couple of reassuring bosoms of comfort linking us with the shore team and our loved ones to help us through a hard situation.
Cape Horn here we come- we won't be hanging around, but it will be good to see you, but even better to leave you behind.
GOLDEN QUOTE: 'Its great to have the boat back into 100% racing condition- special thanks to our shore team for creating miracles and keeping us in this race. Looking forward to tackling Cape Horn.' CHRIS NICHOLSON by Sail-World