by Lucy Harwood
Camper with Emirates Team New Zealand crossed the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12 Leg 8 finish after five days 30 minutes and 10 seconds of racing. Camper secured second place, bringing them back into overall contention for a podium place as they move into third place in the race for the trophy. Once again, the Spanish/New Zealand team has won the IWC Schaffhausen Speed Record Challenge for the leg, posting a 24-hour run of 564 nautical miles on the 14th June in the heinous conditions in the Bay of Biscay.
CAMPER with Emirates Team New Zealand, skippered by Chris Nicholson from Australia, in rough weather, on the approach to the finish of leg 8, from Lisbon, Portugal, to Lorient, France, during the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12
'We knew on the transatlantic leg into Lisbon we had to have a good leg and we didn’t, so this one we knew we really, really had to do well. So this result is really pleasing and deserving for the crew. As for the 24hour record, we thought the watches (the prize for winning the speed record) were gone. We’re just looking at Groupama and Telefonica and thinking there is no way, so we just hung in there. It’s so cool for us to hang on and do that, ' Skipper Chris Nicholson.
This leg has been one of the fastest of the race to date. Once around the Azores, the six-boat fleet blasted the final 1000 miles to the French coast covering 500 miles in a day in speed in excess of 40 knots. With 21 points separating the top four boats at the top of the leaderboard when they left Lisbon, there was everything to play for. Camper, who excel in extreme conditions, were on a mission to put their feet back up on the overall Race podium.
'It’s been a full on last 36 hours, the waves in the Southern Ocean are a bit more predictable. We gybed last night near the centre of the low, and the waves were coming at us from all directions. We had a very confused sea state and that was hard on the boat. I was driving through some big waves a and experiencing some hard landings. I was expecting someone to poke their head out of the hatch and say stop you’ve broken the boat, but no one came to the hatch. I’m sure everyone has the same story regarding the unbelievable punishment the fleet and crew has been through, we’re all just battered and bruised,' concluded Nicholson.
The last 36 hours have been some of the most testing for the crew, sailing into the low pressure system in the Bay of Biscay, leaving the crew battered and bruised. Trimmer Rob Salthouse, described the crew as looking like the ‘walking wounded’ after the continual knockdowns and poundings from the tonnes of water that engulfed the deck throughout the night. Just 200 miles from the finish, skipper Chris Nicholson was washed clear of the helm when Camper was pounded by a huge wave knocking him off his feet. It was the quick reactions of Adam Minoprio who kept Camper under control as Nicholson got back on his feet and took the helm once more.
The dogged determination of the Camper with Emirates Team New Zealand crew was rewarded on Thursday evening (14th) as they again seized the IWC Schaffhausen Speed Record Challenge for the leg with a run of 564 nm in 24 hours.
'Everyone is trying to push to get here first but when you get here in second place and look back at the conditions we had, you have to be pretty happy to be here in one piece. Everyone pushed the boat really hard, I take my hat off to Nico, Will and Stu for putting us in the right place and driving it pretty hard. It wouldn't have taken much to have a small piece of damage and ended up last, so we're pretty pleased with second and to be here in one piece.' Tony Rae.
Camper with Emirates Team New Zealand website