New crew member Nick Burridge hard at work. New crew member Nick Burridge hard at work. CREDIT: Emirates Team New Zealand
Will Oxley takes in the conditions on deck. Will Oxley takes in the conditions on deck. CREDIT: Emirates Team New Zealand

Duelling with Alberto

Tuesday 22 May 2012, 2:24PM
By Emirates Team New Zealand

24 hours into Leg 7 CAMPER with Emirates Team New Zealand is duelling with tropical storm ‘Alberto’ as the team work to make the most of the intense low in order to get east and pick up a developing frontal system that will slingshot them across the Atlantic.

Overnight the fleet headed north at pace propelled by the Gulf Stream current which at times added three knots to CAMPER’s speed over the ground. The key call was when to turn east and Groupama timed this call to perfection and made the most of  Alberto’s strong winds to stretch out a comfortable lead over the other boats.

CAMPER and the rest of the fleet soon followed but are now playing a game of catch-up as the boats head out into the Atlantic and race to pick up a frontal system that could deliver them across the South Atlantic High.

Picking up this front will be vital as any boats that arrive late and miss it will most likely be forced north towards the ice exclusion to wait for the next front to develop – a costly detour that could add two or three days to the leg.

On current routeing CAMPER should just make it far enough east in time to pick up the front and stay in the hunt for the lead but for all the trailing boats it will be a near run thing.

CAMPER navigator Will Oxley says it has been a challenging first night.

“We are quite a bit further advanced than the models predicted, and we have more breeze. It was a tricky transition heading east and Groupama did a much better job of it than everyone else and managed to get away from the rest of the fleet.

“The rest of us were a bit slow in gybing across and are now playing catch-up. The main thing is that we need to pick up the front developing to the east otherwise Groupama will get a real jump on everyone.

“It wasn’t to a bad a first  night all things considered and everyone has settled back in well. It’s going to be an interesting leg.”