Camper overhauled heavyweight rivals Telefonica on Saturday to complete a well-timed comeback and put themselves in a great position to snatch the overall Volvo Ocean Race lead.
The Camper team, skippered by Australian Chris Nicholson, went into the unpredictable Doldrums zone in fourth place but look set to come out in first after overtaking Puma, Groupama and now Telefonica, the current race leaders.
Once through the Doldrums they will be hard to catch on the way to the secret safe haven port organisers have established in leg two as part of the race's anti-piracy plan.
"We've wriggled our way through the lead," said the former Olympian Nicholson.
"The navigators had a good plan from the get-go in the last few days and we've been able to deliver on that up on deck. It's been really pleasing to see the work the guys have put in and the way we went about making the decisions. It's quite a good feeling."
Leg two from Cape Town to Abu Dhabi has been split into two stages, with the boats heading to the safe haven port, from where they will be shipped under armed guard through the worst of the piracy-affected waters of the Indian Ocean to Sharjah in the northern Emirates. Stage two will be a sprint from Sharjah to Abu Dhabi.
The 24 points for victory in the first stage would be enough to take Camper past Telefonica, who head the overall leaderboard by three points.
Camper were leading Telefonica by 21 nautical miles (29 km) on Saturday, with France's Groupama 95nm behind the leaders in third place, followed by the U.S. boat Puma and Abu Dhabi. Sanya, the race's first sole Chinese entry, were forced to pull out of the stage with broken rigging.
The eight-month, 39,000 nautical mile event will conclude in early July in Galway.