An intense battle down the northern coastline of New Zealand is on the cards for CAMPER with Emirates Team New Zealand as Leg Four of the Volvo Ocean Race enters its dying stages
With under 250 miles to go to Auckland CAMPER is locked in a tight duel with Puma and Telefonica for second place with less than ten miles separating the three boats.
Groupama’s lead now looks unassailable but with CAMPER, Puma and Telefonica all within sight of each other the fight for podium places remains wide open.
The chasing pack of three boats are currently trading tacks in a game of cat and mouse as they work to get around Cape Reinga and North Cape and begin the final sprint down to Auckland.
None of the three boats currently have a clear advantage and with a large light airs zone off the Bay of Islands to be navigated through on Saturday night the outcome of the leg is still too close to call.
The transition through the patch of soft conditions is shaping up to be vital with the breeze predicted to drop to under 10 knots for most of Saturday night, and not fill in again with any consistency until Sunday morning.
CAMPER’s latest estimated time of arrival in Auckland is between four and six pm on Sunday March 11th with CAMPER, Puma and Telefonica likely to be neck and neck for the final run up the Hauraki Gulf to the finish line off the Viaduct.
The light and variable conditions combined with the tightly bunched fleet means that anything could happen says CAMPER skipper Chris Nicholson.
“It’s going to be an extremely tense 24 hours. We’re determined to get past our competitors and the big parking lot coming up offers exactly that opportunity.
“These conditions are so changeable that anything could happen. You look at the tradition of this race and it’s all about classic battles down the coast of New Zealand with last minute lead changes so I certainly hope that occurs and if it deserves to happen to any team then it’s us.
“It’s certainly going to make for some tired but hopefully happy sailors in Auckland on Sunday night. We’re all looking forward to a massive Auckland welcome and I know all those supporters out there will lift the guys that little bit extra and perhaps give us an edge over the other boats.
“You can’t beat hometown support so I’d really encourage everyone to get out there and welcome us back to Auckland.”
CAMPER in the latest position report at 1500h 10 March NZT is sailing at 12 knots in a 14.8 knot easterly. The boat is 217 nautical miles from Auckland in third place 108 miles behind Groupama.