In the Volvo Ocean Race, Team Sanya triumphed over their most recent setback and are now set to rejoin the race on Saturday in what skipper Mike Sanderson says will be a ‘Great day’ for the team. Having carried out tests on their new rig, damaged while they were leading the fleet on day nine of Leg 2, the Sanya crew are set to leave Madagascar at first light and race to the safe haven port in the Indian Ocean to complete the first stage of the leg.
'Despite our bitter disappointment in being forced to suspend racing during Leg 2 Stage 1, tomorrow will be a great day for the team and it will be great to have the boat back racing again,' Sanderson said.
The boat will be crewed by six sailors - Ryan Houston, Dave Swete, Bert Schandevyl, Cameron Dunn and Richard Mason – alongside Media Crew Member Andres Soriano. Watch captain Mason will take on skipper duties in place of Sanderson, who will fly to Abu Dhabi to undertake sponsor duties.
'As ever the shore team have done an amazing job performing miracles again,' Mason said. 'For sure they are having a better race than the sailing team so far but I know they would gladly swop that status now and for sure they deserve a well-earned break! I have just landed back in Fort Dauphin and it feels really great to be getting back out to sea, back racing again and into it. They say that trying times define a team and this one keeps getting stronger and stronger.
Team Sanya during leg 2 of the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12, from Cape Town, South Africa to Abu Dhabi, UAE. - Andres Soriano/Team Sanya/Volvo Ocean Race
'Our objective for the trip is to reach the safe haven port in 10 to 12 days. We could have a bit of breeze on before we reach Mauritius but it should ease off after that. Having only seven crew on board will be tough at times but we will not be pushing the boat as aggressively as if we were racing against the fleet so it will be good practise for us.'
Team Sanya will collect four points for sixth place for the first stage of Leg 2 if they reach the safe haven under racing conditions, and then automatically add one more point under race rules for the second stage and a further two points for the Abu Dhabi In-Port Race.
They would then rejoin the rest of the fleet for the second stage of the Abu Dhabi to Sanya third leg, targeting a triumphant homecoming to their home Hainan Province port in China in early February.
'We are all doing this race to be able to show the world what a stunning place Sanya is and to try and steal a few podium spots off the big teams,' Sanderson added.
'So, this bit of the race might seem a little bit lonely as we will be racing without the rest of the fleet, but it will be great to complete the stage and re-join the action.'
It’s the second time in as many legs Team Sanya have overcome a major logistical setback. During Leg 1 they were forced out of racing inside the first 24 hours after suffering massive damage to their hull.
A round-the-clock effort saw the boat shipped to Cape Town where it was repaired within a week and back on the start line of the V&A Waterfront In-Port Race.
After pulling into Madagascar on December 20, the crew got straight to work on the repair operation.
The shore team flew to Madagascar to meet the sailors and the broken part was flown to Valencia in Spain by Frano Tregaskis, one of the team’s two riggers, where it was repaired by rigging manufacturer Future Fibres.
Within a week the spreaders were heading back to Madagascar where they were fitted to the mast, ready for action.
'I have never come across such a determined and positive bunch of guys,' said Team Sanya Chief Operating Officer David Duff.
Working hard to keep gaining on the fleet...Team Sanya during leg 2 of the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12, from Cape Town, South Africa to Abu Dhabi, UAE. - Andres Soriano/Team Sanya/Volvo Ocean Race
'Every second has been spent on getting the rigging fixed and back in the boat so we can start racing again – but aside from that every team member has been using this time wisely to get as many jobs done to ensure we are race fit for Leg 3 into Sanya.
'From the guys in Abu Dhabi unloading and re-packing containers and sending the right material to the right places, the shore team that travelled to Valencia to support Future Fibres, Bicey (David Bice, shore team manager) and the guys who stayed in Madagascar in pretty difficult conditions, to the sailors getting some rest and then fit again for completing Leg 2 Stage 1 and being ready for Leg 3 – all in all a pretty impressive achievement.'
Volvo Ocean Race website