November 27, 2011
CAMPER SECURE SECOND PLACE AFTER TESTING NIGHT
CAMPER skipper Chris Nicholson (AUS) nursed his boat through heinous sea conditions overnight and into Table Bay to clinch second place at 10:48:04 UTC (12:48 local time) in Cape Town on Sunday after 21 days, 21 hours, 48 minutes and 4 seconds (21:21:48:04) at sea.
CAMPER with Emirates Team New Zealand, throttled back overnight in winds gusting 35 knots and mountainous seas, but once daylight broke, they were up to speed and screamed across the finish to take 25 points to add to their four points earned for a third-place finish in the Iberdrola In-Port Race in Alicante on October 29.
They are now in second place overall on the Volvo Ocean Race leaderboard with 29 points – two behind Team Telefónica (Iker Martínez/ESP) who finished first on Saturday evening. Groupama sailing team are expected to finish on Tuesday, with third place set to take them up to third overall with 22 points. Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing (6 points), PUMA Ocean Racing powered by BERG (5) and Team Sanya (3) were all forced to retire from Leg 1.
On stepping ashore, skipper Chris Nicholson/AUS spoke of the decision to stay on the African coast early in the leg:
“Everyone was trying to get to the coast and we were getting there nicely, but it was the wrong call. It's been 20 days playing catch-up from that decision. We weren't able to make up that deficit. We would have loved to have been head to head with Telefónica and PUMA.
He added that it was a tough leg: "The conditions were pretty rough as you can see with all damage from the boats. We handled it well, we're here in second and so that's a good result.”
Co-skipper Stu Bannatyne (NZL) said: “It's very nice to be in Cape Town finally. It felt like a very long leg. We got a podium result so we are very happy. Last night we backed off once Telefónica had finished, with winds between 35 and 40 knots. We nursed it in last night as there was no point pushing at that point.”
The highlight for CAMPER was their run of 554.16 nautical miles in the 24-hour period up to 1755 UTC on November 24. That will almost certainly make them the winner of the IWC Speed Record Challenge for Leg 1. The overall fastest time, over all nine legs of the race, will land the 11 members of the winning crew with an IWC Portuguese Yacht Club Chronograph Edition ‘Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12’.
CAMPER’s fortunes on this opening leg were mixed. After leading the six-boat fleet in a slick start and out through the Straits of Gibraltar, they paid a high price for a tactical dilemma early on day three as the fleet headed out into the Atlantic.
Initially the team chose the inshore option keeping close to Groupama 4 (Franck Cammas/FRA), both boats following the African coastline. On day four, Nicholson decided to sacrifice miles gained towards the mark and headed the red and white boat offshore to join PUMA’s Mar Mostro (Ken Read/USA) and eventual leg winner, Telefónica (Iker Martínez/ESP).
It was an expensive decision, and one from which the team never really recovered and, by 2200 UTC on day five, CAMPER were 105 nautical miles behind in last place. No one likes not being in the lead and on board, the crew of CAMPER had been left with a bitter taste after sacrificing so many miles.
The losses continued to grow as the team struggled to get out to the west. The lowest point was early on day seven, when they logged 334 nm behind the leader, but from 2200 UTC that night, their fortunes changed. That night the team clawed back 56 miles. The boat was finally back on track and taking the course the crew had wanted. The gains continued and CAMPER were back in contention as the expensive westerly option started to pay dividends.
On day nine, CAMPER had moved up to third place and rounded the island of Fernando de Noronha on day 13, November 17, 126 nm behind PUMA’s Mar Mostro. On the fateful day that PUMA’s Mostro dismasted, day 17, November 21, CAMPER had closed the gap to within 110 nm.
The crew had their feet firmly on the pedal and were pushing the boat to her limits and by day 18, the pressure had taken its toll. Bowman Mike Pammenter from South Africa was washed down the deck, his fall broken by his face smashing against the shrouds. It was a stern reminder of just how dangerous and on the edge this race can be. His face stitched up and minus a front tooth, Pammenter was soon back on deck and CAMPER continued at breakneck speed towards Cape Town. She was now hot on the heels of leg leader Telefónica and in touch, just 94 nm behind.
“Now we need to think about our new rival CAMPER,” wrote the crew of Telefónica. But luck ran out for CAMPER who arrived at the exciting cold front, the super-quick conveyor belt to Cape Town, a little too late to gain the full benefit and Telefónica were gone. CAMPER eventually finished Leg 1 over 200 nm and 16 hours behind.
Groupama 4 will be the next boat to finish on Tuesday morning. She is currently 534 nm behind and was averaging 21 knots at the time of CAMPER’s finish.
November 28, 2011 - 1000 UTC Leg One Day 24
SLOW ROAD TO CAPE TOWN
Report: 28/11/2011 10:00:49 UTC
DTL DTLC BS DTF
1 TELE Finished: 021d 05h 14m 25s
2 CAMP Finished: 021d 21h 48m 04s
3 GPMA 0.00 0.0 8.7 274.4
- ADOR Retired from Leg 1
- PUMA Retired from Leg 1
- SNYA Retired from Leg 1
At 1000 UTC on Monday, Groupama 4 with Franck Cammas/FRA was making slow progress at a measly 8.7 knots as the team struggle in light winds. Not surprisingly, the crew is showing signs of frustration at still being at sea while Telefónica (Iker Martínez/ESP) and CAMPER (Chris Nicholson/AUS), who have both finished, have a head start with the preparation of their boats for the Cape Town In-Port Race and the start of Leg 2 on December 10 and 11 respectively.
With just one more night at sea and 274 nautical miles to run, this is a team who will be more than happy to arrive safely in Cape Town.
Meanwhile, the crew of PUMA’s Mar Mostro are filling their time by playing golf and keeping watch for their rescue freighter, Team Bremen, which left Cape Town in the early hours of Monday morning. The ship is expected to take four days to cover the 1,500nm to the remote island of Tristan da Cunha where she will crane PUMA's Mar Mostro up onto the cradle, which sits on her deck.
On board is shore team boat builder Chris Hill, the cradle for Mar Mostro, a shipping container filled with tools, supplies, personal items for sailors and some freeze-dried food for them to eat on the return trip. In the best-case scenario, the boat will arrive in Cape Town on December 6. The replacement mast leaves the United States today, and is expected to arrive in Cape Town on Friday.
November 29, 2011 - 1000 UTC Leg One Day 25
SLOW, SLOW, QUICK, QUICK…. GROUPAMA’S STRUGGLE CONTINUES
The struggle to Cape Town continues for the beleaguered Groupama 4 (Franck Cammas/FRA). Overnight the team made little or no progress, covering just 140 nautical miles in 24 hours and averaging 5.9 knots, but at 1000 UTC today, as the team hooked into a new low-pressure system, it was a question of slowing the boat down as she raced towards the finish at over 18 knots.
“It’s pretty brutal onboard,” said watch captain Daman Foxall. “We are bouncing along now, so we’re actually trying to slow the boat down to avoid unnecessary risks,” he said.
Overnight, bowman Brad Marsh described what it felt like to be onboard Groupama 4:
“We are trying our best to get back to the real world, but at the moment it feels kind of like we are on parole for some horrible crime none of us can remember committing.
“We thought when we crossed the equator that King Neptune had informed us of all our wrongdoings and punished us accordingly. However, it appears that another mythical and equally important character named ‘Uncle Huey the Wind God’ has decided he would like to add salt to our wound.
“Imagine Sebastian Vettel’s Formula One car running out of petrol on the final lap and then watching him jump out of the driver’s seat and try to push his car around the track in order to finish for some vital championship points, a similar scene is happening here now on Groupama 4 in the grand prix of offshore sailing.
“For the last 12 hours we have been sitting in the middle of a high pressure system that has absolutely no wind at all. No matter how hard we attempt to trim the sails and urge our boat towards Cape Town, it is Uncle Huey and Mother Nature who are having the last say and are currently laughing at our attempts.”
With 108 nautical miles to run to the finish, computers have been predicting a finish today at around 1630 UTC, but as Brad Marsh says, “Our estimated time of arrival (ETA) has begun to sound like an old person’s Bingo game. Basically a lot of numbers that are not worth taking note of recently, as they are subject to such a great range of change.”
November 29, 2011
THIRD PLACE FOR GROUPAMA 4
Leg one of the Volvo Ocean Race drew to a close on Tuesday when Groupama 4 and Franck Cammas/FRA crossed the finish in Cape Town at 17.28.31 UTC (19.28 local time) after 24 days, four hours, 28 minutes and 31 seconds (24:04:28:31) of racing. It is the first time that a fully French entry has been seen in the race since the late Eric Tabarly skippered the maxi La Poste in 1993-94. Groupama Sailing team score 20 points for the leg, to add to the two points awarded for fifth place in the Iberdrola In-Port Race in Alicante on October 29. The team are in third place overall.
“Third is not that bad, some others are in a much worse position. But we are disappointed because especially at the end of the leg, we didn’t get to come back on the others,” Cammas said.
"We are pleased to get to Cape Town and to leave with some learnings and confidence in the boat, and all the experience we have built up - it is a lot more important than any amount of training you can do over two years", Cammas said shortly before arrival in Cape Town.
The last two days have been tedious in the extreme for Groupama 4 whose progress was hampered first by no wind and then by too much. It was a tired and relieved crew that finally made it to Cape Town as dusk fell.
Groupama 4 briefly took the lead on day three, November 7, but it was day four that decisions were made from which there was, almost, no going back. Cammas decided to keep inshore and follow the African coast in the painfully slow, upwind conditions. Taking a risk, which, ultimately, did not pay off, the team split from the pack, clearly confident in their choice of tactics. CAMPER (Chris Nicholson/AUS) also took the same track, but later paid a costly price to follow Telefónica (Iker Martínez/ESP), the eventual leg winner and PUMA’s Mar Mostro (Ken Read/USA) later dismasted, out to the west.
The tactical gamble immediately began to cost the French team and, later that day, CAMPER with Emirates Team New Zealand bailed out to the west. The sails slatted and flogged in less than two knots of wind and Groupama sailing team became lonely warriors, heading the traditional trade route less than five nautical miles (nm) off the Moroccan coast.
By day five, the French were on the ‘highway to hell’, over 300 nm east of the rest of the fleet and 42 nm offshore. “With Morocco just under our eyes, we really feel like this is the start of a round the world trip… A lonely one, and one that wasn’t really planned,” wrote the crew that day. The unbelievable scenario that the crew felt could happen, was now taking place. “Let’s say ‘we won’t see them again soon’”, wrote MCM Yann Riou. How right he was.
On day six, Groupama 4 was top of the leaderboard, and Cammas was still confident. “It was not our choice to go alone,” Cammas said in a radio interview on day six. “I have nervous moments for sure, but I don’t share them. I just share my hopes. We’ve done everything we wanted to do up to now,” he said. But, by day eight, the tables had turned as the boats in the west hooked into a new weather system and Groupama were left struggling in fourth place, a position they never recovered from.
At the time, Cammas said, ruefully, “The outcome won’t be very positive, that’s for sure. That’s the risk of our option. We knew it would be favourable in the short term. It was uncertain in the long term and it didn’t come out very good for us.”
That being said, their position on the leaderboard at the end of the leg looks positive enough. Team Telefónica lead with 31 points, followed by CAMPER with Emirates Team New Zealand on 29 and Groupama on 22.
Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing have six points, PUMA Ocean Racing powered by BERG are on five and Sanya are on three, after all three were forced to retire from Leg 1.
The next opportunity for all six to score points will be in the second in-port race in Cape Town on Saturday, November 10 at 1300 UTC. The second leg to Abu Dhabi begins the following day at the same time.
Provisional Leaderboard Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12
1. Team Telefónica: 31 points
2. CAMPER with Emirates Team New Zealand: 29 points
3. Groupama sailing team: 22 points
4. Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing: 6 points
5. PUMA Ocean Racing powered by BERG: 5 points
6. Team Sanya: 3 points
6 December 2011
Blog from the Seas
Leg 1, Day 32
BY: Amory Ross, MCM, PUMA Ocean Racing powered by BERG
Hello from the high seas. If you told me this would be PUMA’s last blog of Leg 1 I’d tell you you were crazy – at this point it seems like we’re eternally traveling to South Africa.
But sitting here, swaying back and forth in my Upper Deck cabin, I’ve been trying to reflect all day. I’ve attempted writing lists, humor, and sentiment, all to no effect. I think I’m suffering from some form of exhaustion: exhausted of this leg, exhausted of loud engines, exhausted of wondering when we’ll get to Cape Town, how much time we’ll have there, where our families are, how many emails remain unanswered, and when we can collectively bury the stress of the last few weeks. Unfortunately, a lot of that stress will be carried into Leg 2. We just don’t have enough time before December 11 and the leg start to properly decompress.
But, and it’s a big BUT – we do actually get to Cape Town late tonight, and on behalf of the whole team I offer a very, very loud: FINALLY! (exhale)
The amount of effort that has gone into getting us there is stunning. There are far too many people to thank. All we can say is that we owe you our race. You know who you are and you’ve probably heard it before, but we simply can’t say it enough. You have kept us going through thick and thin, and if there’s one new slice of life out here that I can offer, it’s that we’re extremely positive about our abilities and remaining opportunities, and nobody is doing anything at less than 100 percent.
At this point we just want to go sailing. We all want to go back to doing our jobs. The sailors want to talk trim, analyze polars, and dissect scheds. I want to document racing, not drama. These are the kind of things that we signed up for and it seems like forever ago that we last had the chance to do them. But that’s where we’re at, mentally. We all want to get back in this race, and we will soon enough.
In other news, today’s game of BREMEN ship-hold “sport” turned into a melee of flying rugby balls and basketballs – great exercise and good fun. Team PUMA was again victorious over the Euro/Philippine shipping crew and it feels good to reignite some of that healthy competitive spirit. Boat work is progressing nicely, but we’re nearing the point of completion: there’s not much more we can do out here with the limited tools we have. As such, plans for our midnight arrival are already in the works.
Play #1 is to get the depowered PUMA’s Mar Mostro off of the BREMEN and into the water, immediately, as this ship needs to return to Durban ahead of some incoming weather. We’ll meet the shore team, clear customs, and then get the boat and the supplies to the compound. Soon thereafter we’ll pull the stubb-of-a-mast and haul the boat. Top of the morning work list: prep the new rig to be stepped midday and clean the boat – it looks like it’s been through hell. Then the new mast goes in, the boat gets re-splashed, and we’re back in business! Just like it never happened, right? Exactly. Nothing short of a miracle…
The next 48 hours are crucial to our state of racing readiness, so wish us luck. We’ve already had plenty in getting here, but we’ll take all we can get!