by Lucy Harwood
Volvo Ocean Race - Camper with Emirates Team New Zealand has been chalking off the miles towards its pit stop in Puerto Montt in Chile where they will stop to repair bow damage suffered in the Southern Ocean. With the boat back up to 90 per cent of its normal speed Camper is less than 1700 nautical miles from its destination.
Adam Minoprio and Tony Rae share a laugh onboard CAMPER with Emirates Team New Zealand during leg 5 of the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12
Shore crew manager Neil ‘Coxy’ Cox is already in Puerto Montt and preparing for a quick turnaround that will see the boat resume racing in Leg 5 as quickly as possible. By finishing the leg in Itajai, Brazil, the team will claim precious points that would soften the blow of their untimely setback, which occurred when they were leading the fleet.
Media crew member Hamish Hooper said Coxy, whose luggage didn’t make it to Puerto Montt with him, would be shaking things up at the Chilean port to ensure a quick and smooth turnaround.
'Coxy has landed on the ground minus his luggage, but that won’t matter one bit to him – he will have burst into town like a hurricane, charmed all the locals and have the place on red alert for our arrival in five or six days,' Hooper said.
Navigator Will Oxley stressed the importance of the shore crew whose sterling efforts are often overlooked.
'More so than ever the skills and resourcefulness of the shore crews will be brought into play as the boats make these unscheduled pit stops around the world,' he said.
Oxley predicted more twists and turns in this brutal leg that has also forced overall race leaders Telefónica into stopping in the Argentine port of Ushuaia to repair bow damage, while earlier on Team Sanya snapped their rudder and had to head back to Auckland.
'This race has been full of many surprises and I am sure there are more to come. This leg could become a race of the shore crews as much as the sailing ones,' Oxley said.
Disappointment inevitably results in introspection and the team has been mulling over the highs and lows of this leg, from the joy of the in-port race victory in Auckland, one of the team’s two home ports, to the pain of becoming yet another victim of the Southern Ocean’s menace having led the fleet.
'In reflecting on the week and this leg I can truly look back and say that it has been the hardest in any race I’ve done,' said trimmer Rob ‘Salty’ Salthouse. 'It has also been some of the fastest and toughest conditions that I’ve raced in, doing extreme speeds in waves that were 12 metres or so high.'
So is Salty thinking about calling time on his round-the-world sailing career?
'If it was starting this week I would say ‘no’, but time has a wonderful way of curing the mind, so ask me in a week when the repairs are finished and we’re back on our way', he said.
We think there is plenty of life in this old seadog yet.
Camper with Emirates Team New Zealand website