Volvo Ocean Race- The drips return and a ripped jib hurts on Camper

Rob Salthouse repairing the damaged J2 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©

Camper, and her crew from Emirates Team New Zealand, were struck a cruel blow last night when one of their most crucial sails ripped in two while hurtling south at speeds of more than 20 knots.

From on board Camper, Hamish Hooper talks us through his day…

Last night was one of those nights where the VO70 turns into a boat possessed and unleashes across the ocean. We were averaging more than 20 knots of boat speed and constant blasts of white water washing over the decks were strong enough to knock us down.

It’s hard to stay in the bunk as it lurches from side to side, back and forth in no particular pattern.

The guys on deck love it – these conditions are tough – really tough, but that’s what they love. It is real adrenaline sailing. Then it gets dark and nothing changes, its just adrenaline sailing blind.

Regrettably, as always in conditions like these, the dreaded water torture drop returns above my bunk, no matter where I place my head, it always lands in either my eye or the middle of my forehead. There was also a constant drip on to my feet- I guess it evens it out.

Perhaps the cruellest bit of torture was still to come.

Not long after I had hopped into the bunk there was a loud bang, the boat suddenly flattened out and all went quiet for a few seconds before a frenzy of action on deck.

The tack rope on the jib broke and caused our J2 to explode into two large pieces

This leads me to my quiz question of the day: 'How big is the Camper J2 when it is in one piece?'
All of the guys on board are pretty amazing. Where most people would curse, ask why and descend into short term depressive anger, they just seem to take the knock on the chin, accept it and move on as best as they possibly can with what they have to work with.

Within minutes the J2 was bagged, the smaller J4 in the air and Daryl and Salty were already well stuck into the probably 12-hour straight repair work.

This is hurting us though, the sail we should have up in these conditions is the J2 not the J4 so we are bleeding precious miles to the fleet in every sked. We just have to hang tough and try to minimise any loses as best we can until the boys have the sail repaired again.

It’s not pleasant downstairs at all this morning, it’s hot, everything is wet, the entire sail is taking up all of downstairs, the air is thick with acetone ad spray glue on top of the existing body stench, and the violent lurching of the boat just adds to it all.

I was going for a full clothes change out today but it looks like I might be best to just fester for a couple more days when things settle down a bit.

Let’s hope the events of today only happen once every four years like today the 29th of February does.

Golden Quote: 'The rope that holds the jib down at the front end snapped, the jib skied up, the angle gets worse for it, it got too tight and just tore itself in half. We broke our J2, which is really the sail we should be on right now so we are a bit slow because of that and of course the lengthy time period we were down for last night. On the last three skeds we have probably drop 6 miles on average on each sked, we just can’t afford to have many more of them.'

Chris Nicholson


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