The exasperated crew of Camper were left cursing their "damn rotten luck" as they finished fifth in the latest leg of the Volvo Ocean Race, and sliding further back on the overall leaderboard.

After battling neck-and-neck with Telefonica for the final 12 hours of the race – to the point where the boats stalled within touching distance of each other – the Spanish boat slipped ahead to claim fourth spot in the 3500nm transatlantic crossing to Lisbon, by less than two minutes.

The excruciating finish cost Camper their third spot overall, now nine points in arrears of Puma. There's been a change at the top too, with Groupama wresting the lead off Telefonica for the first time in the race.

Camper skipper Chris Nicholson said after leading the leg at different times, the fifth place was a bitter pill to swallow: "It's pretty brutal really.

"I thought overall we sailed pretty well but in the end the dice just didn't roll our way. I'm sure that everyone entering the channel thought that there was going to be an element of luck, but it was not our day."

After 11 days at sea, Telefonica and Camper virtually entered the River Tagus together, four hours after Abu Dhabi Racing crossed the finish-line for a surprise victory.

It was to be a slow agonising slog up the river in a dying breeze with a strong current against them. At one point the boats were pushed backwards as they tried to outfox each other in a few knots of breeze. But it was Telefonica that stole the last breath of wind to cross the line for fourth.

"After the finish we sat down in the cockpit and didn't know what to say to each other, other than it was damn rotten luck," Nicholson says. "These are professional guys though and we will bounce back. We're still in this race to win it and with the points still on offer there's everything to play for."

Just two legs remain in this race – the next leg to Lorient starts on Monday June 11 (NZ time), followed by the final 48-hour sprint to Galway. Camper is now 21 points behind Groupama, and will need two strong finishes to get back on to the overall podium.

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