by Lucy Harwood
Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12 first section of the eighth leg, from Lisbon to Lorient, is drawing to a close as the fleet approach the Azores High. The lead the front runners have held over Camper is being eaten away as the boats compress in the light airs of the high pressure system that dominates the area.
The guys on watch onboard CAMPER with Emirates Team New Zealand during leg 8 of the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12
'As we have come into the high pressure system, there has been good compression in the fleet. What took these guys 30 hours to do to us, we have pulled back in four hours,' commented Trimmer, Rob Salthouse. 'We are just trying to work our way through the high pressure system now, we just had a good little puff, so we are going to try and capitalise and squeeze our way through.'
'Sometimes there are benefits coming up behind these guys. They show you where the light patches are first and you can work your way round. We've had the guys up the rig today quite a bit to get a good view of what's happening breeze wise, so we've been in better pressure to leeward, which is working quite nicely at the moment. Hopefully that will pay.'
Once rounding the Island of San Miguel the boats will turn towards Lorient, France and hook into the forecasted fast downwind conditions. Watch Captain Stu Bannaytne is hoping the next weather system will provide good conditions for Camper, 'When we get into the high here, there is a chance to get back into it, and the forecast for the other side of the high pressure is starting to get quite interesting. There’s potentially a very big breeze and downwind sailing - very scary stuff.'
The fleet expect to face downwind, fast reaching conditions with winds between 35 - 45 knots. Skipper Chris Nicholson is looking forward to the opportunity to put the hammer down for the final section of the leg, 'We think we're pretty good in those conditions, but to take these boats into 30 - 40 knots downwind, anything can and will happen. We are already planning how we will deal with all the situations ahead. We won't leave any stone unturned.'
Camper with Emirates Team New Zealand website