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CAMPER looks ahead



The CAMPER with Emirates Team New Zealand base opened its doors to the media today and the crew talked openly about the Race to date, the delayed start in Sanya and what lies ahead in the Southern Ocean.


CAMPER's strength appears to be its main strength, asserts skipper Chris Nicholson. He was reluctant to dwell on the subject, for fear of jinxing the boat, but stressed that the boat has been incredibly reliable.


Co-skipper Stu Bannatyne agreed. “We have not had to back off,” he said and CAMPER has been able to keep the hammer down in every condition they have encountered in the race - so far.


However, Nico did reveal one new CAMPER record. “The boat had reached new heights with regards to smell,” he said -  the result of 11 crew sailing 19 days, thanks to a long north-easterly detour, without a proper shower or laundry.


Four thousand miles of tight reaching on the leg from Sanya to Auckland resulted in a fourth place finish for CAMPER. "On a tight reach the boat is vulnerable,” said the skipper.


The skipper also quashed speculation that crew changes were under consideration. “Some (crew) may have trouble getting their heads around going to the Southern Ocean after a short turnaround," said Nicholson. "You may see some changes on some of the other boats, but not here.”


He added that the conditions have been relatively easy for a Volvo Ocean Race so far, but “some of the conditions on the next leg are why we do the race-running and reaching.”


Helmsman and trimmer Rob Salthouse, sailing in his third Volvo Ocean Race, talked about the controversial delay to the start of Leg 4 from Sanya.


“We were disappointed about the delay," he said. "it’s all about seamanship.” It was clear he felt the crew of Camper had plenty of experience sailing in those kind of conditions and if Race Control had not delayed the start “We would have arrived on Thursday instead of Sunday.”


Salthouse looked ahead to Leg 5. “We are starting two months later than normal and there will be more hours of darkness.” 


Presumably there will be more ice in the water as the Antarctic ice shelf has had two more months to thaw.


“My most vivid memory from a Volvo Race is the first time I saw an iceberg,” Salthouse recalled. “We used to bet chocolate or muesli bars on who could guess the size of an iceberg. The largest was 300 metres high and more than a mile long. Give me an iceberg any day over ships when sailing in light air in the Strait of Malacca dodging unlit fishing boats and nets.”


When asked if the In-Port Race and the next leg to Brazil are “must wins” for CAMPER, Stu Bannatyne responded, “We just need to focus on sailing well and let the results fall where they will. But it is good to put points on the leader board.”


Then the CAMPER crew were off to the first of their regular pre-race weather briefings. The current forecast for the Sunday start is 30-35 knots northeast along the track the fleet will be sailing. Welcome to the Southern Ocean.