Camper closes in on Groupama lead 24 hours since leaving Sanya
Team New Zealand's Camper has survived a testing 24 hours since leaving the southern Chinese city of Sanya on the fourth leg of the Volvo Ocean Race.
Winds up to 25 knots and five-metre waves battered the six-strong fleet soon after leaving port on the 5200 nautical mile leg to Auckland.
Camper's crew quickly offset their fifth place allocation in the staggered start of the leg's second stage, and early on Tuesday (NZT) were second, just over a mile behind early leader Groupama.
Overall race leader Telefonica is third, four miles behind Camper.
Camper spokesman Hamish Hooper said the wind and waves increased quickly soon after the start, even before the fleet had cleared the protection of the island of Sanya.
"In no time at all it's become rough and windy and everything is far from fantastic," he said.
Hooper said the Camper crew had set themselves an early goal of leading the fleet through the notorious Luzon Strait.
"There are a long hard few weeks ahead of us. And perhaps the hardest part of the leg is the next 48 hours until we get clear of the Luzon Strait between Taiwan and the Philippines."
Hooper says Camper's crew have been energised by the prospect of a victorious arrival in New Zealand, with the first boats expected in Auckland around March 8.
"At times you feel like a block of cheese being rubbed up against a cheese grater, slowly withering you away physically and mentally," he said.
"But the guys are resilient and focused, and it feels fantastic to finally be heading for home to Auckland."
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