Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Relief all round at the end of leg one

Less than 24 hours separated the first and second placed boats at the end of the first leg. It was Team Telefónica who ultimately claimed victory in a time of 21 days 5 hours and 14 minutes.

They were followed a day later by Camper. In winds gusting over 45 knots and bright sunshine, the New Zealanders were just relieved to finish safely. After all, three of the original six boats that started in Alicante on 5 November had failed to reach Cape Town in one piece.

Navigation error
Skipper Chris Nicholson commentated that after a small navigational mistake at the beginning of the leg, they had played catch-up for the next 18 days – an error they’ll not want to make again.

I caught up with Camper’s media crew member Hamish Hooper as he hung over the rail greeting friends and family. I asked him how it went and what the worst moments were for him.

Worst times
His reply was simply: “Amazing! It was awesome! It was great - the first and the last nights were the worse!”

When I asked him how he got on with all the Inmarsat equipment he just looked back at the dome and the FleetBroadband 500 and said: “That big dome at the back does some wonderful things.”

Looking happy
Hamish just couldn’t stop smiling and looking around, happy to have leg one under his belt. You can see full interview on YouTube shortly.

Groupama’s story was a lot more painful. They came in three days behind the winner after succumbing to light winds. The wind door had slammed shut behind Camper, leaving the French to sit in the ocean, wallowing in frustration.

Sense of relief
When they did get within spitting distance of the finish line, the wind shadow from Table Mountain then stopped them in their tracks. Speaking to their MCM Yann Riou on the dock later that day, the sense of relief on his face was clear.

Now there’s only a brief period for the boats and crews to recover, to receive some love and attention, before they prepare once again for the next in-port race and the start of leg two on the 11 December.

Mark Covell

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