Second place leaves Nicholson wanting more

The crew on stage
The crew on stage © Ian Roman / Volvo Ocean Race

Despite having taken second place on the opening leg of the Volvo Ocean Race from Alicante, Spain to Cape Town, South Africa CAMPER skipper Nicholson declared himself far from satisfied with the result. CAMPER completed the 6,500 nautical mile passage at 10:48:04 UTC on

"We are here in second and that's a good result so we are happy with the points and the position, but we were all expecting to do better." Nicholson said on the dockside in Cape Town. 

"We have had 20 days of playing catch up from an early mistake and we weren't able to catch up."

Nicholson said that the leg had proved unusual and had produced some difficult sailing conditions but the CAMPER boat had come through with flying coloiurs.

"It was tough. It was different from any other first leg i have done before. The weather just wasn't the same. We are here and we are in good shape."

Referring to the damage which had forced Sanya, Abu Dhabi and PUMA to retire from Leg 1 Nicholson dismissed any suggestion that these teams were out of now contention.

"The fact that it has happened to them means that it could happen to anyone at anytime. If I was in their shoes I would know that this race is still wide open."

Asked what he wanted to do first after three weeks at sea, Nicholson replied "Most of all I just want to see my family."

Having performed brilliantly on the short inshore element of the course, CAMPER powered away from Alicante at the head of the fleet back on November 5. They survived the boat-breaking conditions of the first night unscathed but an uncharacteristic navigational hesitation soon after entering the Atlantic left Chris Nicholson’s team playing catch up from that point on.

Resisting the urge to gamble on a risky move to get them back in contention, instead Nicholson’s men kept their cool, concentrated on trying to grind down their deficit on the leaders and waited patiently for an opportunity to present itself.

When the initially promising southerly strategy adopted by Franck Cammas’ Groupama sailing team turned sour, CAMPER’s more westerly track moved them up to third, behind PUMA Ocean Racing powered by BERG and Team Telefónica.

After days of frustrating sailing without significantly closing down the leaders, PUMA’s dismasting unexpectedly elevated CAMPER to second place and fianally gave them a chance to put Telefónica under pressure.

When both boats hooked into a high wind cold front heading straight for Cape Town, it was Nicholson who pushed his crew hardest, sailing flat out for days on end and clocking up 554.16 nautical miles in a 24-hour period, a performance that will almost certainly win them the IWC Schaffhausen Speed Record Challenge for Leg 1.

Ultimately, however, Telefónica’s superior positioning in relation to the cold front allowed them to cruise to victory, arriving in Cape Town at nightfall on Saturday, November 26 in a time of 21 days five hours, 14 minutes and 25 seconds.

According to co-skipper Stu Bannatyne, on their final night at sea faced strong winds and huge seas and with their only remaining challenger, Groupama trailing by more than 500 nautical miles, the CAMPER crew reduced sail dramatically to protect their boat.

"It felt like a very long leg. 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.”

Source www.volvooceanrace.com

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