by Lucy Harwood
Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12 team Camper with Emirates Team New Zealand, in an amazing turnaround midway on Leg 7 from Miami to Lisbon, stormed to the front of the fleet on Friday having been last 48 hours earlier.
CAMPER with Emirates Team New Zealand on Leg 7 - Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12
The decision to abandon their southern position and take a more northerly track paid dividends as they left previous frontrunners Telefonica and Groupama in their slipstream.
In the latest position report at 13:02 on Friday, May 25, Camper was 11 nm ahead of second-placed Abu Dhabi, 26 clear of race leader Telefonica and 39 nm in front of Groupama.
Only two days earlier, Chris Nicholson’s Camper crew were more than 80 miles behind the leaders, and their hopes of clawing their way back into contention looked remote. But the brave decision by Nicholson and navigator Will Oxley to cut their losses and adopt a completely different strategy was richly rewarded as they flew to the top of the pack.
Skipper Nicholson was delighted to be in front, but insisted there was still a long way to go in this intriguing leg.
'There’s a lot of variable weather going on with the leg and it makes for an unstable leaderboard,' Nicholson said on Friday. 'There’s so much left to play out in this leg – it’s far from straightforward.'
Nicholson was happy that he and his crew were able to turn things around in such a short space of time.
'It’s never good dropping a huge amount of miles on a sudden cloud, but if you’re going to do it, it’s better to do it early as it gives you more time to make it back up,' he said.'Now we are just trying to skirt around the outside of a high pressure system coming down, and hopefully this is a little bit safer. Then hopefully there will be some good running conditions heading towards Lisbon.'
Media crew member Hamish Hooper was equally restrained in expressing his joy at Camper’s staggering recovery.
'It’s a nice feeling going from one wrong extreme to the right one, but by no means anything to get too carried away with other than a quiet grin and momentary warm sense of satisfaction for the guys who have all been toiling away quietly and focused, sailing the boat to its optimum from a point two days ago where a lot of other teams might have just given up,' he said.
Position report 1300 UTC (25/05/12)
Camper with Emirates Team New Zealand DTF 2058.8nm
Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing +11.3 nm
Puma Ocean Racing powered by Berg +18.8 nm
Team Telefonica + 26.2nm
Groupama Sailing + 39.5 nm
Team Sanya + 71.6 nm
Camper with Emirates Team New Zealand website