SANYA, China // A daring rope stunt boosted Camper's bid to win the Volvo Ocean Race's third leg Friday as five yachts, including Azzam, battled for the lead just a day from the finish line in southern China.
South Africa's Mike Pammenter acrobatically dangled over the side of the speeding yacht in a harness to free flotsam rope which had become attached to Camper's hull, slowing the Spanish/New Zealand challengers.
Pammenter was lowered to just inches above the water, where he was able to cut the rope free, said Camper's Australian skipper Chris Nicholson.
"We dropped the keel down ... and threw Mike over the side on a halyard (suspended harness)," Nicholson said.
Pammenter, 28, said the operation "went pretty well" after he was hauled back on board. "I think we got most of it," he said.
Camper, placed third, are in a five-way fight to the finish with Spanish boat Telefonica leading the 3,051 nautical mile stage from the Maldives to Sanya.
Just 55 miles separated the leading quintet on Friday, a slim advantage in ocean racing terms with 24 hours of challenging sailing to go.
Telefonica, the overall race leaders, had a slim advantage over French boat Groupama, Camper, America's Puma and Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing, with some 350 nautical miles to Sanya after leaving Maldives on January 23.
The fleet is expected to arrive on Saturday, and will compete in an in-port race on February 18 before setting off on the fourth leg to Auckland a day later.
The race over nine months and 39,000 nautical miles will finish in July in Galway, Ireland.