Volvo Ocean Race: Camper has Fiji Race win stolen at the finish

TeamVodafoneSailing has overtaken the Volvo 70, Camper in the Auckland Fiji Race
Ivor Wilkins
Volvo Ocean Race entry, Camper sailed by Emirates Team NZ has narrowly lost the Auckland - Fiji race to the ORMA60 TeamVodafoneSailing, slightly short of the finish line off Musket Cover just before 7.30pm, Thursday evening.

TVS passed Camper between the 1730 and 1800hr reporting schedules with race organisers, the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron.

At 6.00pm TeamVodafoneSailing had taken the lead in the 1140nm race, and was 2nm ahead of Camper, with the VOR70 having 22.4nm to sail to finish.

TeamVodafoneSailing, skippered by Simon Hull, was officially recorded as finishing at 19:20:57 and Camper crossed the finish line just 18minutes later at 19:38:16 on 9 June.

The two yachts have been well separated for much of the 1,140nm Auckland to Fiji Race. At one stage Camper reported she had stretched out to be 174nm ahead of the ORMA60 trimaran, which was formerly Geant, winner of two trans-Atlantic races.

Pre-race, pundits expected TVS to romp home and slash the race record, however gale force winds forced the start to be delayed by 24 hours, and the race started at noon on Sunday, in light airs.

TeamVodafoneSailing followed her router-prescribed course to the east and separated from the rest of the fleet, led by Camper, with Emirates Team NZ's CEO Grant Dalton aboard.

TVS got stuck in light winds sailing for much of the time at 4-5kts, before getting a sniff if the SE Trades and cutting back onto the same direct line to Fiji as Camper.

The catch up started in earnest last night at 2200hrs when Camper still enjoyed a 100nm lead, which was erased in the space of 19-20 hours.

Speeds fluctuated over the final day with TVS being recorded as hitting speeds of 31.5kts but for much of the day she was sailing an average of 21.5kts compared to Camper's 17.7kts. In the final few hours of the race, TVS stepped up the pace staying over 25kts, with Camper hovering around the 18-20kt mark in the SE Trades.

The rest of the race fleet are still at sea, with third placed yacht on the water, the Bakewell-White design, Wired (Rob Bassett) still 320nm from the finish and sailing at just under 14kts.

After crossing the finish line, Camper's skipper Chris Nicholson said the team had achieved its objectives. 'It was a good shakedown of yacht systems and crew under race conditions. We sailed a good race. The yacht went really well and I couldn’t fault the crew work.

'The final stages developed into a battle between a monohull and a trimaran. Unbelievable, really.

'The battle added a lot of interest to the last few miles. We hoped we could hold them off but once we got into the south-east trades the conditions suited a 60ft multihull.

'We were averaging 17-18 knots and they were hitting 25 – it was only a matter of time before our 150-mile plus lead disappeared.' Vodafone grabbed the lead in the last few miles, finishing about 10 minutes ahead of Camper after more than 1110 miles of racing.

Camper is not stopping in Fiji. The yacht stayed long enough to drop Emirates Team New Zealand CEO Grant Dalton and photographer Chris Cameron and headed back to sea for the voyage home and a heavy programme of sail testing.

TeamVodafoneSailing's exit from the Hauraki Gulf, after the start on Sunday can be viewed on the Vodafone Play website http://forecast.predictwind.com/tracking/display/TeamVodafone?fullscreen!click_here to go straight to the full screen version. If you are using on an iPhone, please tilt the device horizontally to get the ideal view of both screens.

You can follow the whole fleet on the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron website www.rnzys.org.nz or http://live.adventuretracking.com/aucklandtofiji2011!click_here to go straight to the Yellowbrick tracker and zoom in to see the individual race yacht's positions updated every 20 minutes.
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