CAMPER with Emirates Team New Zealand were enjoying fast sailing and rising temperatures today as they prepared to take on the final 500 nautical miles (nm) of Leg 5.
The Kiwi/Spanish team are within around 48 hours of finishing the 6,700-mile leg from Auckland in New Zealand, one of their home ports, to Itajaí in Brazil.
CAMPER were forced to suspend racing on April 3 and divert to Puerto Montt in Chile to repair structural damage, resuming the leg on April 8. The crew have maintained an impressive pace since and spirits are high on board as the end of this challenging leg draws near.
“The breeze has been shifting left all day and the gybe we’re now on is the favoured one to Itajaí,” navigator Will Oxley said. “I know there’s a bit of interest in when we’re going to get to Itajaí, and the good news is that at the moment we’re improving our ETA. With a bit of luck we could be having brunch in Itajaí.”
As temperatures rise with every mile the team make north, co-skipper Stu Bannatyne was relishing taking his foul-weather jacket off for the first time since the leg start on March 18.
“You can’t imagine how nice it is to not have a tight rubber seal around my neck,” he said. “To top it off, we had a flying fish incident, so we must be getting into warmer water.”
By the time they complete the leg it will have been an entire month since they set sail from Auckland.
At 1300 UTC on Sunday CAMPER had 509 miles left to sail, and were averaging over 16 knots of boat speed.
CAMPER are expected to finish around 1200 UTC on April 17 after which they face a four-day turnaround to prepare for the DHL In-Port Race Itajaí on April 21, and the start of Leg 6 to Miami the following day.
Meanwhile, Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing’s Volvo Open 70 Azzam was on its way to Brazil by cargo ship after retiring from Leg 5 with structural damage. Two of the team’s shore crew, Sam Bourne and Tim Collen, have accompanied the boat to get a head start on the repair job to be carried out in Itajaí.
In a report today Bourne said working conditions on board had earlier been difficult as the ship rolled through 40 degrees in big waves. Now in flatter water, Bourne said the pair were were making good progress on their long list of tasks.
“Tim and I set to work on the yacht; we have a big job list and need to make good progress before arrival in Itajaí so we can focus on the major repair,” he said.
“Today was the day to rebuild the forward stacking bay that was sacrificed to shore-up the damaged hull. Tubes were cut, splinted, fitted and glued together to form the frame, ready to laminate tomorrow.
“It was pretty cold in the boat, around 10 degrees, so slow cure time meant that was the end of play for the day on that project. Next up was repairing the bracket for the keel hydraulic pump, a victim of the violent motion of a Volvo 70 at high speed.”
Abu Dhabi are expected to arrive in Itajaí around April 18 when the team will have to race the clock to effect repairs to the hull in time for the next points scoring opportunity — the DHL In-Port Race Itajaí on April 21, on the eve of the start of Leg 6 to Miami.