Leg One of the 2011/12 Volvo Ocean Race has begun with CAMPER with Emirates Team New Zealand leading the fleet out of Alicante Bay at the start of the toughest ocean race in the world.
In a 20 knot North Westerly CAMPER had a strong start and dominated the in-shore aspect of the leg to take over a minute and a half lead into the Mediterranean as the fleet heads for Gibraltar and the Atlantic.
With over 6,500 miles to go to Cape Town CAMPER faces a hard first night with up to 30 knots on the nose and a confused sea state laying ahead for the beat out of the Mediterranean.
Skipper Chris Nicholson says that despite the emotions of saying goodbye the crew are delighted to be at sea and racing after 18 months of preparation.
“The guys are in great shape and these conditions should suit us. We are focused on getting away from Alicante and out of the Med without breaking anything or anybody.”
“This is a long leg though and nobody should read too much into our performance over the next 24 hours – a lot can happen in a few thousand miles. Nonetheless it’s a nice boost to take a lead out of the start.
“The support from home over the last few weeks has been great and I’d really like to thank everyone in New Zealand for their encouragement. That support and best wishes makes a real difference to the guys.
“We can’t wait to bring CAMPER and this race home to Auckland in March next year.”
“We now have nine months of gruelling ocean racing ahead of us. Sailing doesn’t get any tougher than this and we will be giving it everything we have to win this race.”
CAMPER now settles in to several weeks of ocean racing with arrival in Cape Town not expected until late November.
CAMPER’s progress can be followed at www.etnzblog.com.