by Stefano Blin
In the Volvo Ocean Race today, there has been a period of quick reactions on board Camper, the Spanish New Zealand entry currently racing in Leg 7 from Miami to Lisbon. First thing this morning, skipper Chris Nicholson lost control of the steering while doing 24 knots when one of the steering cables jumped off the cogs of the starboard steering wheel.
Stuart Bannatyne driving with a wall of white water over the deck, onboard CAMPER with Emirates Team New Zealand during leg 7 of the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12, from Miami, USA to Lisbon, Portugal.
Reserve crew member Nick Burridge suddenly found himself taking the portside wheel to try and bring Camper back under control. 'He looked at me with very big eyes, but he did well,' commented Nicholson shortly after the incident.
Split-second reflexes again came into play later in the morning when Galician helmsman Roberto 'Chuny' Bermúdez narrowly saved the team from a high-speed collision with a whale in the middle of the Atlantic.
With white water was breaking over the boat's bow Bermúdez's keen eye caught a glimpse of the mammal off the bow. Without a second thought Bermúdez swung the wheel and dodged the whale, avoiding a collision that could have proved costly for the boat and crew.
'With reflexes like a cat he narrowly missed what could have been the equivalent of a runaway freight train colliding with a truck,' Media Crew Member Hamish Hooper said.
A remarkably calm Bermudez commented shortly after the incident: 'I just saw a big whale off the bow and I quickly changed course from one side and then to the other. We were lucky – it is a big animal and if we had collided it would not be worth thinking about.'
Camper is currently some 850 miles from Lisbon and is averaging speeds in excess of 20 knots in winds of over 30 knots. Once the fleet has navigated their way across an impending ridge of high pressure they anticipate a fast reach into the finish line in Lisbon late on Thursday.
Volvo Ocean Race website