The war of attrition that has seen damage hit the fleet hard now on four of the five legs of the Volvo round the world race is forcing Spanish/Kiwi entry Camper to take time out less than half way from Auckland to Itajai, Brazil.

Skipper Chris Nicholson is taking his red 72-footer into the little-known Puerto Montt on the west coat of Chile, about 1,000 kilometres south of Santiago, 800 north of Cape Horn.

Repairs to the second bout of damage, to a longitudinal – the first was to a non-structural bulkhead – will take about three days and Nicholson, an Australian, reported: “We are about 2,500 miles away from where we are going. After some problems with the bulkhead, we repaired that only for the repair to fail again. Unfortunately some of the secondary bonding let go off the longitudinal. We are running out of materials to effect repairs at sea and the repairs are struggling to be effective.”

The Chinese entry Sanya is on its way back to Tauranga, New Zealand, with a damaged starboard rudder, the third leg in which Mike Sanderson’s team has been hit by major damage.

The Abu Dhabi entry Azzam, skippered by Britain’s Ian Walker, is playing catch-up nearly 1,000 miles behind the leader after having to return to Auckland, with a damaged structural bulkhead, just hours after the start – the second time it has had to cope with major damage just hours after a leg start. Azzam was dismasted after the start from Alicante in November.

Out front is leg four winner Groupama of France, Franck Cammas nursing a 45-mile lead over Kenny Read’s American-flagged Puma through winds up to 60 knots and 15-metre rollers.

The second Spanish boat, Telefonica, skippered by Olympic gold medallist Iker Martinez, was 120 miles behind Cammas, was third. All three boats still able to race hard were designed by Juan Kouyoumdjian.

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