Team New Zealand yacht Camper looks unlikely to arrive first in Auckland this week, but skipper Chris Nicholson remains upbeat about winning the Volvo Round the World ocean race.


Running fifth from six boats on the fourth leg to Auckland from Sanya, China, Nicholson’s crew were 130 nautical miles off leaders Groupama overnight.


A torn headsail caused frustration earlier in the leg when it ripped while travelling south at speeds of more than 20 knots. It took about 20 hours to retrieve and get back up, while rival crews maximised the strong winds.


Nicholson has also been frustrated by conditions which haven’t allowed them to exploit Camper’s running strengths, forced instead to reach. "This race so far has been more about reaching, we need to get it back to normal, we need to try and beat Telefonica [currently third] to Auckland," Nicholson said via satellite phone.


"Hopefully there should be a lot more running which is one of our strengths. We had a really good start to this leg and then stuttered.


"As we get closer to Auckland that’s looking harder and harder in regards to the lead Groupama has. They’ve really done a good job.


"The one thing between here and Auckland is there’s a huge amount of thunderstorms. That in itself will create a lot of opportunities for all the crews."


The end of the fourth leg is a particularly enticing segment of the race for the Kiwi crew, affording some rare time at home. But trying to resist thoughts of Auckland restaurants, Nicholson said the focus is on making up some much-needed ground.


"We’re in good spirits and trying to get back at least a couple more places before we get to the leg finish," he said, admitting, though, the Auckland target "does offer a bit more motivation for the crew."


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