by Thomas Pryor
Camper with Emirates Team New Zealand, skippered by Chris Nicholson from Australia during the start of leg 3 of the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12 from Abu Dhab,in UAE to Sanya, China.
The first stage of Leg 3 of the Volvo Ocean Race has delivered a disappointing result for Camper with Emirates Team New Zealand, but the team have managed to hold onto second overall on the Volvo Ocean Race leaderboard.
The short 106 nautical mile sprint down the United Arab Emirates coast to Sharjah produced a thrilling finish with the entire fleet finishing within minutes of each other after a neck and neck battle that saw Abu Dhabi grab the lead from Telefonica just two miles from the finish line.
CAMPER made a strong start and held second place behind Telefonica as the fleet rounded the last mark out of Abu Dhabi and headed for Sharjah. However, on the long reach into the finish superior boat speed from Abu Dhabi, Groupama and Puma saw them slowly edge past CAMPER and secure a small advantage by the finish.
The finishing order which saw overall race leader Telefonica finish just in front of CAMPER means that the overall standings for the Volvo Ocean Race remain unchanged with Telefonica and CAMPER respectively in first and second.
CAMPER skipper Chris Nicholson though is not happy with the performance.
'It’s certainly not the result we were looking for and the reality is that we were left wanting for speed on the reach.
' We had made some changes to the boat and by our numbers we were actually going better than what we were on the race into Abu Dhabi from Sharjah but clearly still not enough to hang onto the others. Now we need to go back to the drawing board and see what else we can do to improve our reaching speed.
'We were much better once things broadened out and we could crack sheets further but at that stage it just wasn’t enough to haul the leaders in.
'It’s a little bit hard being hampered by one course that limits you to a heading that several of the other guys are strong on. We just have to bide our time for the next stage of the leg. There’ll be a more upwind which we’re comfortable with and just keep chipping away at where we’re weak.
'The other guys were just a bit quicker there’s no escaping that. We were looking at them hard and we couldn’t see any differences in the set-ups as such but it may be that in those conditions their hull shape gives them an edge.
'We’ve got to keep things in context though, this is just a small part of Leg 3 and the vast majority of it distance and points wise lays ahead of us. We now have a lot of homework in regards to the weather and geographical obstacles that we will face in the 4000 odd miles from the safehaven to Sanya.
' I don’t think the next stage will be won by boat speed, it will be won by being smart and keeping the boat in one piece and going the right way.
'Nonetheless you’ve got to get all the points you can. Even today, you can see all the boats have weak and strong areas. You just don’t want to end up in a position further down the track where one or two of the legs don’t favour you. You want to get as many points on the board as early as you can.
'We’re not happy with the result today. Coming in at the back of the fleet hurts. We know that we’re capable of much better and we will deliver it into Sanya.'
The fleet will now be loaded onto a ship in Sharjah and transported to a safe haven port in the Indian Ocean. Once the boats are unloaded, racing to Sanya will resume around January 23, and the first boats could reach Sanya by February 4.