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As CAMPER continue to chew up the remaining miles of Leg 5, volvooceanrace.com caught up with skipper Chris NIcholson to talk motivation, recuperation and what it will take to see the Kiwi/Spanish team back on the start line for the DHL In-Port Race Itajaí.

"It’s been a very long journey to get to here but we’re going to get fourth, we’re going to earn points, and I think that’s quite a reward for the efforts of the team" - Chris Nicholson, skipper, CAMPER with Emirates Team New Zealand

volvooceanrace.com: You’re within 1,000 nautical miles of the finish line. That must feel good?

Chris Nicholson: It’s nice to break through the 1,000-mile barrier for sure. The forecast is pretty good from here to Itajaí too. To be honest, we’ve had a pretty good run to here from Puerto Montt. We’ve only had two days of nasty stuff and at this time of year I can’t complain about that. From here on in we’re thinking 20 knots running most of the way, possibly a little bit light at the end. Our current ETA has us getting there on the afternoon on April 17. It could be very light at the finish but hopefully there will be a bit of a sea breeze blowing there to get us the last few miles. That’s something we’ll know more of in the days ahead.

VOR: How does the team keep motivated when you’re the only ones on the racecourse?

CN: I’d be lying if I said it was the same out here [on their own rather than with a fleet]. It’s harder for everyone to be motivated, but we actually need to get there as soon as possible. We’re racing ourselves to get there as soon as possible to prepare the best we can for the in-port race. We’ve been on the back foot now for a couple of weeks so we need to get there in good time to get the boat sorted and get back to in-port racing. The motivation is to get to shore as soon as possible to allow for the best preparation.

VOR: You must be really looking forward to getting off the boat?

CN: Yeah exactly. But even now, as we head north and it gets a bit warmer, things are getting a lot easier. It’s amazing how quickly we can go from fairly horrible conditions to quite pleasant sailing. You forget about the bad, you’re looking at the good, and before you know it you’re ready to go racing again.

VOR: Will you get any time to recuperate in Itajaí?

CN: We’re thinking we’ll get anything between a half and one day off. Honestly it’ll just be enough time so we can sort out our personal belongings, get everything washed and cleaned and get ready for the in-port racing. We knew this was how it would be even right back when we decided to go to Puerto Montt. We knew it would be a tough ask to have everything sorted out and in place but, touch wood, so far we’re going to make all our milestones.

VOR: How much work needs to be done on the boat?

CN: As tempting as it is to leave the boat in the water, the rig alone has done an extra 3,000 miles than anyone else on this leg so we need to pull it out and check it over. We also need to do another thorough inspection of the hull because it’s been a pretty hard 3,000 miles since Puerto Montt on the hull. Everything seems fine but we need to do a rapid check. The little tweaks here and there won’t happen – they will have to happen in Miami. This is about making sure the boat stays in one piece between Itajaí and Miami.

VOR: Is the shore team already in Itajaí?

CN: They are there, and as far as I know the base will be set up today. We’ve got a couple of new jibs coming so we’ll need to check them. We do also need to chill out for a day. All that’s been factored into the schedule so it’s all looking ok.

VOR: You’re due in on April 17 and the in-port race is on April 21 so it’s going to be a tight turnaround. Can you make it?

CN: Yes. But it’s only doable because we’ve had a good run from Puerto Montt to here. The whole team have their heads around what’s expected of them. The sailors know it’s going to be a very short break before the in-port race, the shore team know they have a shorter schedule in which to check everything, and we all understand the little tweaks and little jobs we’d all liked to have done in Itajaí won’t happen. That won’t affect the result but it can add a bit of frustration where guys want certain jobs done in areas of the boat which we just won’t have the time to do.

VOR: Is everyone still feeling positive on board?

CN: I have to say that since we damaged the boat probably all of us at one stage or another have struggled. It’s been a very long leg. We couldn’t have damaged the boat in any worse a position on the race course than what we did. It’s been a very long journey to get to here but we’re going to get fourth, we’re going to earn points, and I think that’s quite a reward for the efforts of the team. I’m very proud of the whole team – everyone was totally prepared to do whatever it took to get these points. You never know how much these points will count for come Galway.

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Hamish Hooper/CAMPER ETNZ/Volvo Ocean Race

Skipper Chris Nicholson on deck for a sail change onboard CAMPER with Emirates Team New Zealand during leg 5 of the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12, from Auckland, New Zealand to Itajai, Brazil.

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Hamish Hooper/CAMPER ETNZ/Volvo Ocean Race

Skipper Chris Nicholson looks outside at the seething weather onboard CAMPER with Emirates Team New Zealand during leg 5 of the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12, from Auckland, New Zealand to Itajai, Brazil.