Camper became the latest boat to see their fifth leg hopes hit by atrocious conditions in the Volvo Ocean Race when they were forced to slow and carry out repairs in the middle of the Southern Ocean on Saturday.
The Spanish boat crewed by Team New Zealand had a healthy lead over the French boat Groupama 4 until they suffered bow damage when they fell off the back of a six-metre wave. They reduced speed to around 60 per cent to make repairs.
First Groupama, then the overall leaders Telefonica and the American team Puma sailed past them on the fifth leg from Auckland in New Zealand to Itajai in Brazil.
Camper were struggling through the Southern Ocean at around 13 knots as Chris Nicholson, the captain, oversaw a repair job while the boat was being slammed by huge waves.
"Essentially, we've cut half the bulkhead out and re-laminated," said Will Oxley, the navigator.
"So there's been jigsaws, grinders and lots of noises you don't expect to hear in the middle of the ocean up in the bow of the boat, and lots of carbon dust.
"It's pretty full-on, trying not to drop off a wave while the guys are using a grinder or jigsaw.
"You could easily chop off a hand."
The rest of the leading boats all said they were trying to slow down rather than push hard in conditions that were set to worsen over the coming 48 hours.
"I don't think anyone is going at 100 per cent," said Tom Addis, the navigator of Mar Mostro, Puma's boat.
"We're all just trying to get the boats through and sail safely."
Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing, back in fifth place after suffering structural damage on the first night, were over 600 nautical miles behind the leaders.
If Camper cannot make successful repairs, Azzam could improve to fourth.
Sanya, the sixth team in the race, were forced out of the leg after their rudder sheared off on Thursday, prompting them to head back to New Zealand.