7 Nov 2011

Camper takes early lead as boats damaged

6:05 am on 7 November 2011

The New Zealand entry Camper made the best start to the opening leg of the Volvo Ocean Race yesterday as the teams contesting the eight-month, 39,000-nautical-mile event set off from Alicante bound for Cape Town.

However it wasn't smooth sailing for everyone with the Chinese entry Sanya, skippered by New Zealander Mike Sanderson, suffering hull damage which forced them to return to port just hours into the race.

The yacht, the second of the six entrants to be undone by ferocious conditions in the Mediterranean, was some 30 nautical miles south-east of Motril off the Spanish coast and was being buffeted by winds of more than 43 knots and waves of around 10.5 metres when the damage occurred.

Sanya's shore team are working on a plan to ensure the boat could rejoin the race as soon as possible.

After completing an inshore course, the Abu Dhabi entry became the first casualty when their boat Azzam suffered a broken mast 30 nautical miles south of Cartagena and was forced back to port.

The Abu Dhabi shore team are also working to get the boat back into the race.