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VOR: Crews put in final prep for Leg 4 from Melbourne to new stopover in Hong Kong; Franck Cammas (F

MELBOURNE – With Christmas and boat repairs behind them, and some new crewmembers lined up, the teams in the Volvo Ocean Race are ready for Leg 4, which will take them 6,000 nautical miles north to first-time stopover Hong Kong. The seven teams will leave behind the frigid, nasty Southern Ocean and deal with multiple climate zones and multiple land masses. The leg begins Tuesday, January 2nd Melbourne time, which, of course, is Monday in the United States and Europe.

Leg 3 winner MAPFRE will try to add to its overall race lead while team AkzoNobel will try to stay in one piece. The Dutch-flagged team arrived in Melbourne well after the rest of the fleet after damaging its mast and mainsail just four days out of Cape Town. The crew lost touch with the fleet and finished a badly beaten seventh place. However, it had enough time during the Christmas stopover to repair the damage, thanks to the shared services of the VOR Boatyard, and technicians from Southern Spars which manufactured the fleet’s masts. Team AkzoNobel reports it will be back at full fighting trim by Tuesday.

Luke Molloy (AUS) and Peter van Niekerk (NED) return to the crew, while Cécile Laguette (FRA) makes her first appearance for team AkzoNobel.

It was announced last week that Franck Cammas (FRA), skipper of 2011-12 VOR winner Groupama, will replace injured navigator Pascal Bidégorry (FRA) for Leg 4 aboard Dongfeng Race Team.

The leaders of the Volvo Ocean Race, MAPFRE, will make no changes to the crew that won Leg 3. Full crew lists here.

As for Leg 4 itself, the crews will sail up the eastern coast of Australia and into the Trade Winds. They’ll thread their way past Papua, New Guinea and the Solomon Islands. They’ll likely hit the Doldrums, and will have to contend with tropical and northeast cyclones.

Overall leaderboard (after three of 11 legs):

1 Mapfre (ESP), 29 points 2 Dongfeng Race Team (CHN), 23 points 3 Vestas 11th Hour Racing (DEN/USA), 23 points 4 Team Brunel (NED), 14 points 5 Sun Hung Kai Scallywag (HKG), 11 points 6 Team AkzoNobel (NED), 9 points 7 Turn the Tide on Plastic (UN), 6 points

The esteemed Franck Cammas (FRA), one of the most successful and respected offshore sailors in the history of the sport, has joined Dongfeng at least for Leg 4 Melbourne-Hong Kong that begins Tuesday. Will they get him some proper team foulies gear before the start?

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