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CAMPER energised by race for home



CAMPER with Emirates Team New Zealand has sights set on a glorious homecoming into their home port as they scrap for the lead with Groupama in the first few hours of Leg 4 Stage 2 to Auckland.


With more than 5,000 nautical miles (nm) of challenging open ocean racing ahead of them, Chris Nicholson’s mainly Kiwi crew were able to quickly offset their fifth place off the staggered start of the Leg’s second stage.


Just a few hours after the start, CAMPER had moved up to second place. Media Crew Member (MCM) Hamish Hooper says in his latest report from the boat that watching Team Telefónica, Groupama, Abu Dhabi and Team Sanya all set off ahead of them had been tortuous.


“We had to wait nine long minutes and 13 arduous seconds as Telefónica, Groupama, Abu Dhabi & Sanya all started before us,” Hooper says. “As it turned out it became a slight blessing in disguise for us. The breeze was very light as we virtually started directly into a transition zone between two different breezes.


“We could see that they were all a bit parked up not long after the start so knew we didn’t want to go the way they did. Sanya and us worked very close into the shoreline and managed to squeeze inside the other three boats.”


Hooper says the wind and waves increased quickly soon after the start even before the fleet had cleared the protection of the island of Sanya, prompting a personal worry about the weather to come.


“Now the wind speed is building, we just had our first big bang off a wave sending a massive shudder through the boat and we aren’t even clear of the shelter of the southern side of Sanya,” he says. “In no time at all it’s become rough and windy and everything is far from fantastic. Most of the guys and I seem to have a different opinion of conditions when they are like this, they call it great, I call it miserable.


“There are still big seas and high winds, which is a perfect recipe for sea sickness. I wait in hope that it will not rear its ugly head.


Hooper said that the CAMPER crew had set themselves an early goal of leading the fleet through the notorious Strait of Luzon on their way to what they hope will be their first leg win of the race so far.


“There are a long hard few weeks ahead of us. And perhaps the hardest part of the leg is the next 48 hours until we get clear of the Luzon Strait between Taiwan and the Philippines,” he said. “Our short-term goal for sure is to be the first out of the Luzon Strait, no need to guess our long-term goal."


CAMPER leave Sanya still second in the overall standings and Hooper says despite a disappointing points haul from the Chinese Stopover, the crew has been re-energised by the prospect of a victorious arrival in New Zealand.


“At times you feel like a block of cheese being rubbed up against a cheese grater, slowly withering you away physically and mentally, but the guys are resilient and focused and it feels fantastic to finally be heading for home to Auckland.


“It’s times like this that you try to think happy thoughts -- like arriving into the Hauraki Gulf on a stunning Auckland summer’s day in front of the pack,” Hooper concludes.