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CAMPER with Emirates Team New Zealand is sailing on the edge as the team battles extreme conditions in the North Atlantic caused by an intense low pressure system. Winds averaging around 30 knots over the last 24 hours have seen the boats sail the fastest to date in the race with the 24 hour distance record set by CAMPER in Leg 1 being broken by all of the top four boats.
There is still more to come with conditions forecast to worsen tonight as the fleet nears the centre of the low before gybing away approximately six hours from now and heading for Lorient, at which stage there is expected to be a steady 40 to 45 knots of winds with gusts up to 50 accompanied by six metre waves. From that point conditions will gradually ease as the boats close in on the finish line.
With only a few miles separating the top few boats and all the teams sailing to the very limit of their capabilities there is nothing in it and any one of the boats could come out on top.
With the strongest winds still to come and everything still to play for success is likely to come down to what team can minimise mistakes and best find the line between pushing the boat and staying in one piece.
CAMPER navigator Will Oxley says that it’s on the edge sailing for the team.
“This is the fastest the boats have gone in the entire race and there’s still much more of it to come, so almost without a doubt this will be the fastest stretch in this edition of the race. It’s certainly all go and we’re seriously on the edge.
“Everything is at maximum loads and we’re just hanging on as we head closer towards the low pressure. The barometer has dropped about 20 millibars in 24 hours which is pretty significant and we’re expecting tonight to be one of the windiest nights in the race.
“We just need to take care while continuing to push hard. It’s a fine balance and we need make sure we end up on the right side of the equation.
“Things will moderate in the morning as we move away from the low but even at the finish line we’re still likely to have at least 20 knots.
“Right now at this point it’s not clear whether we’re on a submarine or yacht. It’s unbelievably wet aboard – my swimming pool doesn’t have quite as much water as this!
“To get in the lead overnight we simply need to make less mistakes than everyone else. The boats are so on the edge and sailing at such high speeds that one mistake will cost you dearly. When to make a sail change? How hard to push into the low to get the shift? Lots could happen and there’s still plenty to play out.
“When you’re sailing at 25 to 30 knots you can eat up a 10 mile deficit in the blink of an eye so stay tuned.”
CAMPER in the latest position report at 0100 15 June NZT is 5.10 nautical miles behind leg leader Groupama sailing at 25 knots in a 26 knot westerly. The latest estimated time of arrival into Lorient is midday Friday 15 June local time/ 10pm NZT.