CAPE TOWN, South Africa -- Australian skipper Chris Nicholson endured the toughest conditions of his career and a late scare with broken rigging before guiding his Camper boat to second place Sunday behind Telefonica in the first leg of the Volvo Ocean Race.
The unpredictable Cape Horn weather provided the crew's biggest test in a stage which had already claimed three boats along its 6,500 nautical mile route from Spain, forcing out the Abu Dhabi, Team Sanya (China) and Puma (United States) teams.
A key piece of the rigging at the top of Camper's mast snapped with around two hours to go, leaving Nicholson with no option but to ease his boat past the finishing line.
Winds gusted around 40 mph, and Nicholson's team gained confidence by managing to finish.
"That's the roughest conditions I've been in in a Volvo Open 70," Nicholson said. "We were starting to run out of options other than to turn around and that is the last option. At the time, you are thinking it's the worst day of your life but, now we're through, it makes you feel a little bit more robust for the next time those conditions crop up."
Telefonica completed the stage on Saturday night and Camper's arrival in South Africa leaves just one of the original starters in Alicante, Spain, to complete the first leg -- French entry Groupama.
Overall, Telefonica leads the standings with 31 points ahead of Camper with 29.
Skippered by Franck Cammas, Groupama still has 521 nautical miles to negotiate and is expected to arrive on Tuesday.