by Thomas Pryor
Camper with Emirates Team New Zealand, in rough weather, on the approach to the finish of leg 8, from Lisbon, Portugal, to Lorient, France, during the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12.
Camper with Emirates Team New Zealand has taken second in Leg 8 of the Volvo Ocean Race after a gritty fight that saw the team battle boat breaking conditions to set a new 24 distance record for this edition of the race, and move back onto the podium with third overall position.
Camper finished in the early hours of Saturday morning at 1230hrs NZT, in Lorient, France.
For the last two days of the leg Camper endured some of the most extreme weather seen in the race with winds gusting over 50 knots and seven to eight metre seas that pushed both boat and crew to the limit.
However, the crew dug deep and fended off strong advances from first Telefonica and then Puma to finish second just under an hour behind leg winner and race leader Groupama.
The 25 points picked up returns Camper to the podium and leaves the team just five points behind second placed Puma with one leg and two in-port races remaining.
Camper skipper Chris Nicholson says that it was a good leg for the team.
The red stinging eyes of Stuart Bannatyne after coming off watch, onboard CAMPER with Emirates Team New Zealand during leg 8 of the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12, from Lisbon, Portugal to Lorient, France. (Credit: Hamish Hooper/CAMPER ETNZ/Volvo Ocean Race)
'The guys were just amazing, we had no dramas all the way here and at times we had over 50 knots and massive seas. To finish second here and get ourselves back on the podium is massive for all sorts of reasons.
'It gets us on a nice roll heading into the finish and it’s something positive for the team at a vital time. The sailing over the last few days has been hugely exciting and at times a bit scary so to take away the 24 hour record and a solid result is great.
'When you find yourself in 45-50 knots you’re just trying to make it through in one piece – forget about the results, you just want to make it through the night, and we did it with good speed. Obviously, everybody is pushing to get here first, but when you look back at the conditions we had you’re just glad to get here in one piece.
'When you’re sending it as hard as what we were it is pretty easy to do serious damage to boat and crew and finish in last place or worse so I think we got the balance about right.
'Everyone’s saying they have never been this knocked around. Last night we had a few moments where we were going at 38 knots down waves in the dark – that’s not right.
'You have to think Groupama are in with a pretty good shot now. They have got an impressive programme, great speed and nice tactics. But we’re going to keep on pushing right to the very end and we’re certainly looking to forward the next in-port and leg and moving further up the leaderboard.
'We had to do well in this leg and we did. It shows the fighting spirit of this team – we don’t give up and we’ll keep fighting as long as there’s points on offer.'
The crew of Camper now have a well-earned week off before getting back out on the water in preparation for the Lorient in-port race on June 30th.