by Lucy Harwood
Volvo Ocean Race team Camper with Emirates Team New Zealand, racing from Itajaí to Miami, crossed the Equator at 0910h UTC for the fourth and final time.
Speed onboard Camper with Emirates Team New Zealand during leg 6 of the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12
Camper is currently just over 2000-miles into the sixth leg of this marathon ocean race around the world and is in a tough battle with both Puma and Telefónica at the front of the fleet.
The three boats have been locked in an intense tussle since the race started just over a week ago from the southern Brazilian city of Itajai. Camper has been snapping at the heels of Ken Read’s Puma and is now joined in the battle by Telefónica.
The fleet now faces the Doldrums, a band of moveable low pressure lying just above the Equator characterised by squalls, lying around 100 miles north.
Media Crew Member Hamish Hooper, commented in this morning’s blog: 'The hope is always that these fragile areas will part like the Red Sea for us and park the other boats up for as long as safe for us to bolt away.
'This will be Stu Bannatyne’s 17th crossing of the equator, for him its like crossing the road and if it wasn’t so hot I might be able to think of a way to celebrate!'
For skipper Chris Nicholson the close racing has proved to be a good way of gauging Camper against the other boats, 'We spent most of the day within one mile of Telefónica with each boat probing the other with different modes of sailing. Both boats have shown strengths and weaknesses and are proving to be very close in these conditions.'
Camper is currently due to arrive into Miami on the 9th May.
Update from MCM Hamish Hooper:
Our 24-hour surveillance has changed targets for now. We have spent nearly the past 48 hours in a marathon match race with Telefonica. Having been passed by them in the night, they were seen on the horizon closing in at speed however we were again in front. We gybed on them and for several hours were sailing side by side, with them just off our port side.
What emerged was a tug of war testing session by both boats, trying sailing in one mode, gauging performance and changing to another trying to gain an upper hand.
Amazingly these are conditions that we have had very little of in the entire lap we have done around the world so far. So it is still a bit of a learning curve as to how each of the boats go against each other. Eventually Telefonica decided to gybe away and then back again in quick succession to give themselves some more space. Hours later, after the same intricate moding with fractions of miles given and taken again both boats converged, this time they managed to pass ahead of our bow just on sunset. And still we are tracking along close by through the night.
As I said yesterday I am anticipating this is what it will be like all of the way- a pass here and a pass there and eventually one of those passes will be the last one until the finish line, but hopefully somewhere along the line we would have managed to pass Puma in the process as well.
As always with this Volvo Ocean Race, there needs to be a curveball thrown in somewhere, and that is a small but potentially damaging doldrums zone for about 150 odd miles just ahead. The hope is always that these fragile areas will part like the red sea for us and park the other boats up for as long as safe for us to bolt away… Hope is a wonderful thing. We are pretty much crossing the equator right now. I think if it wasn’t so hot I might be able to think of a way to celebrate- maybe I could have a warm protein shake. This will be Stu Bannatyne’s 17th crossing of the equator, for him its like crossing the road.
I can’t wait to get to Miami. I wonder if the WWF will be on when we are there. That would be amazing. I often think that it’s a pity Brutus the Barber Beefcake doesn’t wrestle anymore.
Camper navigator Wil Oxley explains the complicated weather system ahead:
Camper with Emirates Team New Zealand website