by Lucy Harwood
Volvo Ocean Race - Nothing has captured the pioneering spirit of the race more than Camper’s Herculean effort to round Cape Horn and finish Leg 5 in time to compete in the Itajai in-port race. The exhausted crew reached the mythical maritime milestone on Wednesday (April 11) as they sail the 2,000 extra miles and spend an additional 10 ten days at sea on an already punishing leg to Brazil following a pit stop for emergency repairs.
The crew arriving into Porto Montt onboard CAMPER with Emirates Team New Zealand during leg 5 of the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12, from Auckland, New Zealand to Itajai, Brazil.
The stop in Puerto Montt on the west coast of Chile was enforced after the boat’s bow was damaged in brutal Southern Ocean waters that ravaged the fleet. Two of the boats have been unable to finish the leg, which started in Auckland on March 18th.
Media crew member Hamish Hooper expressed his relief at reaching the Cape Horn - even if it was in total darkness.
'Finally we have reached and rounded one of the Holy Grails of ocean sailing - without as much as a glimpse of it,' he wrote in his blog on Wednesday. 'Unfortunately when we rounded it was dark, no moon to even lighten it for a slight sighting. For some reason this doesn’t seem to bother me, more often than not it would with a landmark like this, but I guess it illustrates the relief and jubilation of finally making our way north out of the relentless Southern Ocean.'
Hooper admitted that the past few weeks, that has included high-octane Southern Ocean racing, an unscheduled stopover and the rounding of Cape Horn, had been an emotional rollercoaster.
'We have had quite the adventure down here for the past three weeks, and I think most of us onboard are pretty happy to see the back of it,' said Hooper, who along with fellow crew members Adam Minoprio and Daryl Wislang went round Cape Horn for the very first time.
'It is an amazing place to be and to experience, but it’s definitely not the kind of place you want to hang around too long. You are always just a bit on edge down here. It is fierce, raw and inhospitable, but it is stunning and mystical and I am glad to have visited.'
The Camper crew has really been through the mill in this gruelling leg that has pushed them to the very limits, mentally and physically; lesser sportsmen might have considered throwing in the towel. But this crew is nothing if not resilient, and with 15 points still up for grabs for finishing fourth, there is still plenty to play for. This would put Camper within 28 points of race leader Telefonica with four legs and four In Port races still remaining.