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Volvo Ocean Race: Looking to make the most of squalls and thunderstorm    
Sat, 3 Mar 2012

As the leading boats cross the Equator Camper with Emirates Team New Zealand is looking to make the most of the large thunder clouds and sudden severe squalls on the approaches to the Doldrums.

As the fleet eases down through the Solomon Islands group they are encountering squall lines packing gusts of wind in excess of 35 knots and rain filled thunder clouds that can significantly help or hinder progress.

Camper was due to cross the Equator this morning and is hoping the unpredictable conditions will deliver some much need gains on the fleet.

Camper remains in fourth place, 140 nautical miles off the pace but with still over 2000 miles to go to Auckland the potential for the Doldrums to deliver large gains and losses and the tricky conditions around New Caledonia are seen by the team as key opportunities to get back into the game.

With Camper on the verge of crossing the Equator temperatures have been slowly increasing aboard with the hot and stick conditions making for uncomfortable sailing for the crew.

Camper co-skipper Stu Bannatyne says that Camper are looking to make the most of the unpredictable tropical conditions.

'These thunder clouds pack a huge amount of power so you have to be constantly monitoring them to get the most out of them and avoid any potential damage, which is not what we need right now.

'Get them right and they can gain you tens of miles, get them wrong and it can be a very different story. So we just need to ensure that we get them right.

'We're behind in the game at the moment, but now is not the time for any radical gambles. We are going to stay with the fleet and hope that we can deal with the thunderstorms and light patches as well as or better than everyone else and get back into this race.'

Camper in the latest position report at 1100h 3 March NZT is averaging 14.5 knots in a 17 knot easterly.

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by Thomas Pryor and Sail-world

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