Volvo Ocean Race- Iron rations in the carbon fibre prison

Mike Pammenter onboard Camper during leg 4 of the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12, from Sanya, China to Auckland, New Zealand.
Hamish Hooper/Camper ETNZ/Volvo Ocean Race©

After suffering a delayed start, and then doing the Tour de Taiwan as the fleet found the east was best in opening stanzas of Leg 4 of the Volvo Ocean Race, food is now running short as the Leg takes three or four days longer than expected.

Hamish Hooper describes life aboard Camper, as they punch into heavy seas and strong winds in the final stages of the leg to Auckland.

I thought I had woken up in a nightmare today

Beginning with being woken as I levitated above my bunk as we fell of a sizable wave.

I got up and it was a bit chilly so I put a thermal on, it was pretty bumpy so I thought I would head up on deck. In full wet weather kit I got up there to see we were battling along in gusts of 27 knots with what I deemed to be pretty massive seas. Then I saw a few graceful albatross gliding amongst the big rollers. For a moment I could have sworn I was smack bang in the middle of the Southern Ocean having skipped the Auckland stopover!

This was not a good thought. I missed the humour of this prospect.

Alas we are still about 250 miles away from the top of New Zealand, probably another 24 hours until we finally lay eyes on it.

This is taking forever. I think we have served our sentence of time in this carbon fibre prison for this leg.

We are now officially into our reserve food bag, which was hastily packed moments before we left the dock to start this leg in China as the estimates of times for the leg had increased because of the delayed start announcement.

Having scrounged through left overs from other day bags, I think we are alright for today and tomorrow, but for food on Sunday things might be looking petty scarce other than freeze dry. Hopefully we will finish earlier rather than later in the day on Sunday.

Either way everyone onboard will be hungry!

The guys ask me every morning what is for breakfast; 'Muesli & yoghurt' Is always my reply- until today. When their eyes lit up at the prospect of a variation on breakfast from today… 'We have run out of yoghurt so todays breakfast is just muesli-'just a slight variation. 'And from tomorrow there is only freeze dry for breakfast- no more muesli'

There has been a run on the snacks as well, word is out that after today the snacks will be gone so everyone is stocking up their personal allowance before real food crimes begin and a black market trade emerges.

I would say there has been some pretty significant weight loss from a lot of the guys on this leg. And with only one week until the start of the longest coldest leg of the race there isn’t much time to put it back on and get back some physicality in the gym.

Quiz Question: 'What was the average weight lost by the crew of Camper in the first 3 legs?'

So a big part of the next week will be eating, which is of course the main topic of conversation now. Not much else other than sailing and food is spoken of anymore.

Which is fine by everyone because no one doesn’t like talking about food.

I would say by the time we reach Auckland each of the guys will have a pretty clear idea of where and what they will be eating for each meal and meal in between meals for the entire week.

Enough about food for now, back out here on the ocean, it seems like the battle royale might just be in the infancy of beginning. Puma, Telefonica and Camper have all made a couple of tacks this morning in setting up for the approach to North Cape. The lead miles are coming and going as the boats tack back and forth. But it is all very close between us three. This is going to get interesting and even more so with Abu Dhabi & Sanya having potential to catch back up into the mix.

Hold onto your seats because I think any and everything could happen in the final 48 hours of this leg down into the greatness of the Super City Auckland.

Can’t wait to see that Sky Tower!

Golden Quote: 'Traditionally, for some reason there have always been some historical battles down the New Zealand coast right into the finish in Auckland, and this is shaping up to be no different. We are happy that we have managed to get back up into the mix so far, but the job is not done. Everything that has happened in this leg so far counts for nothing.'
Chris Nicholson