CAMPER with Emirates Team New Zealand is preparing for a final heavy weather battle into Lorient as an intense low pressure system moves down on the fleet.
The low that is now packing winds of up to 50 knots is due to hit the boats in approximately 24 hours and will deliver conditions not seen since the Southern Ocean. The 1000 nautical miles of fast heavy weather downwind sailing ahead has the potential to break both boats and speed records.
With just 10 nautical miles separating the top four boats the way they play the challenging conditions of the low pressure system is shaping up as being critical to success in Leg 8 and with such a tight leaderboard possibly the entire race.
On board CAMPER the current focus is on doing everything possible to prepare for several days of hard sailing so that the team are in a position to push the boat to the absolute maximum in the extreme conditions while staying in one piece.
CAMPER navigator Will Oxley says that while conditions are moderate for the time being there is some very challenging sailing ahead.
“We’ve got just on 1000 miles to go to Lorient and we’re heading at speed towards a very big low pressure system which is going to deliver some serious breeze and some seriously fast downwind sailing. A 24 hour distance record is certainly a very real possibility.
“There’s going to be plenty of wind with sustained 35 knots and gusts up to 50 knots so much like what we saw in in Leg 5. This low should be our ticket all the way to Lorient so the key thing is to ensure that we are well prepared and set-up for it.
“It’s going to mean a fast trip and we should be over the finish line by Friday afternoon/evening.
“To do better than the other guys in these conditions we can’t afford to make any mistakes and we need to hold our nerve but we also need to know where the edge is. It’s a very fine line between pushing the boat to the limit and holding it together. We need to find that line and not cross it.”
CAMPER in the latest position report at 0130 14 June NZT is 9.6 nautical miles behind leg leader Telefonica sailing at 22 knots in a 19 knot westerly. The latest estimated time of arrival into Lorient is 2pm Friday 15 June local time/ midnight NZT.