Spanish boat Camper, which is managed and largely crewed by Team New Zealand, at last clicked to produce a convincing victory in front of tens of thousands of 'home' fans in the Auckland In-Port Race, its first win in the Volvo round the world race.
Skippered by Australian Chris Nicholson, the crew produced a dominant performance on, for many, the home waters of Waitemata Harbour, taking the lead on the sprint to the first mark.
Behind Camper by 54 seconds was the American-flagged Puma, with leg four winner Groupama of France in third.
Another Aucklander, Mike Sanderson, winner of the race in 2005-06, was also celebrating as his second time round Team Sanya finished fourth, having out-manoeuvred Abu Dhabi Ocean, skippered by Ian Walker, for fifth and overall race leaders Team Telefónica in sixth.
“The one thing we said all week is how do we thank everyone who has supported us and I hope this goes a long way to doing it,” said Camper skipper Nicholson. “Now we’ve flicked the switch and we want this on the next leg.”
“It was a lot of fun,” said Puma skipper Kenny Read. “We had a pretty bad race,” said Telefónica skipper Iker Martínez. Groupama, skippered by Franck Cammas, moved to within 15 points of overall leaders Telefonica.
The fleet now faces its biggest challenge yet when they set sail from Auckland at 1400 local time on Sunda, down into the Southern Ocean for the 6,705 nautical mile slog around Cape Horn and on to Itajaí in Brazil.
Three new sailors join the fleet for Leg 5. Anthony Nossiter from Australia is joining Abu Dhabi to replace the outgoing trimmer/helmsman Justin Ferris, Finnish Olympic gold medal winner Thomas Johanson takes over for the leg from injured Kelvin Harrap on Puma, and Danish Olympic gold medallist Martin Kirketerp steps up for Leg 5 on Sanya for Ryan Houston who picked up a kidney infection.
Within hours, the jinx which has hit Walker’s Abu Dhabi team hit again as they turned round and headed back to Auckland reporting a damaged bulkhead.
Only hours into the first leg from Alicante to Cape Town the yacht had to retire with a damaged support to the mast.
Auckland In-Port positions
1. Camper with Emirates Team New Zealand (60min 38sec) 6pts
2. Puma Ocean Racing by Berg (+0:54) 5pts
3. Groupama Sailing Team (+1:26) 4pts
4. Team Sanya (+2:20) 3pts
5. Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing (+2:52) 2 pts
6. Team Telefónica (+3:27) 1 pts
Overall table after Auckland
1. Team Telefónica
2. Groupama Sailing Team
3. Camper with Emirates Team New Zealand
4. Puma Ocean Racing by Berg
5. Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing
6. Team Sanya