by Thomas Pryor
Skipper Chris Nicholson and Stuart Bannatyne have a brief discussion before going on deck for a sail change onboard Camper with Emirates Team New Zealand during leg 2 of the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12, from Cape Town, South Africa to Abu Dhabi, UAE.
On Day 13 of Leg 2 Camper with Emirates Team New Zealand has had the ideal start to Christmas Day at sea and moved into first place, using the Volvo Ocean Race's orthodromic distance calculation method .
After a tense Christmas Eve battle with previous leader Telefonica, Camper managed to slip in front and is now heading into a building westerly breeze and towards the Equator.
The leg started from Cape Town South Africa, and is headed for a Leg finish at a safe port in the Indian Ocean, where the boats will be loaded ointo a secure ship and the offloaded, to resume racing 24hours out of the Leg 2 finish port of Abu Dhabi
Camper is 24 nautical miles ahead of second placed Telefonica, with Groupama in third place 110 miles off the pace.
Camper's strategy for crossing the doldrums has so far proven to be spot on with boat speed rarely falling below 10 knots and good pressure being enjoyed throughout. By contrast much of the fleet has struggled with light and fickle conditions and periods becalmed.
Camper Skipper Chris Nicholson says that it’s pleasing to see the hard work put in by the crew paying off.
'Well I said all that I wanted for Christmas was for us be in first place and it looks like we’ve got that wish so I’m pretty happy.
'Stu, Will and Animal (Andrew McLean) had a good plan from the get-go and we’ve been able to deliver on that plan up on deck. It’s been really pleasing to see the work that’s been put in and the way we went about making the decisions.
'It’s a good feeling but there’s still a lot of racing to be done and there’s no way we’re taking this lead for granted. We’ve done a good job of getting through the doldrums so far but the last 48 hours have shown just how unpredictable this place can be so there’s still an awful lot more to play out in this race.
'There will be no let-up in intensity until we cross the finish line in the safe haven and until then this leg can still be anybody’s.
'Nonetheless we hope this is a nice Christmas Day present for families and friends back home and our thoughts will be with all of them as they celebrate Christmas.
'Somehow Santa managed to find us and slip aboard overnight so we’re all in good spirits.'
Camper in the latest position report at 1100h 25 December NZT is averaging 17.7. knots in a 16 knot westerly.