by Lucy Harwood
Volvo Ocean Race - Camper with Emirates Team New Zealand continue to trek towards Chile for repairs. With less than 600 nautical miles to their pit stop in Puerto Montt, skipper Chris Nicholson insists Camper can still win the race.
Skipper Chris Nicholson and Daryl Wislang onboard CAMPER with Emirates Team New Zealand, heading towards Chile, during leg 5 of the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12
'We’ve got to understand that this race is still wide open,' he said on Sunday as the shore crew estimated the boat’s arrival in the Chilean port late on Tuesday (April 3) or early on Wednesday (April 4). 'You know it was only a month ago that everyone was saying that Telefonica were untouchable. Now all of a sudden Groupama have stepped up to the throw. Essentially if we hadn’t broken the boat, we would have featured heavily in this leg. There’s no way we’re giving up on all of our dreams of winning this race. We could walk out of this leg hopefully with a fourth. We just have to have a look a bit further down the track to all the points that are on hand in all the in-port racing and the offshore legs.'
Camper had led the fleet in this fifth leg from Auckland to Itajai, Brazil before suffering bow damage in brutal Southern Ocean conditions. But the blow of having to suspend racing and stop for essential repairs will be softened by a fourth-placed finish that would see them claim 15 valuable points in the race for the trophy.
Nicholson stressed it was going to take a Herculean effort from the sailing crew and shore crew to get the boat repaired quickly and to Itajai in good shape ahead of the in-port race and Leg 6 start.
'There’s no two ways about what we’re embarking on here,' he said. 'It’s pretty difficult, (we’ve spent) a lot of time at sea. Even though we have been planning this for some days now, our focus is gravitating back towards when we rejoin this leg.'
Media crew member Hamish Hooper believes shore crew manager Neil ‘Coxy’ Cox will oversee a speedy turnaround in Puerto Montt.
'Coxy and our guys are poised like a Formula One racing pit crew, ready to shred carbon as soon as the lines are tied off the dock,' Hooper said.
Camper with Emirates Team New Zealand website