Five of the Volvo Ocean Race teams are ramping up their preparation for this weekend’s resumption of racing in Abu Dhabi whilst Team Sanya have rapidly settled back into the groove of life at sea and are making good progress towards the finish of the first stage of Leg 2.
The skeleton crew of six sailors now appear to have dodged the worst of a tropical cyclone which had earlier looked likely to batter the Chinese boat with storm force winds. According to race meteorologist Gonzalo Infante who has been monitoring Sanya's progress from race control in Alicante, if Sanya can maintain their current speed they will miss the full effect of the storm.
'The tropical cyclone lost a lot of its intensity as it passed over the island of Madagascar,' Infante said. 'Right now they are sailing upwind in fifteen knots of breeze and later this afternoon they could see winds around twenty knots or more for a few hours.'
Infante says that after riding out these stronger winds Sanya should have a much quieter passage to the safe haven port. 'The trade winds will not be as strong as usual -- maybe 15 knots so it should be a good sailing for Sanya' he said.
'All is going to plan,' said Sanya's stand-in skipper Richard Mason. 'We expected this weather as there is a cyclone building off the North East of Madagascar and moving this way. We are currently in front of it and the last weather forecast had it slowing down even more.'
In a report from the boat Sanya Media Crew Member (MCM) Andrés Soriano said the six-strong crew are surging towards the finish line at the secret safe haven port and looking forward to rejoining the fleet for Leg 3 to their home port in Sanya, China:
Dave Swete steers around dark clouds. 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
'It certainly did not take very long to get back into the swing of things and its life as usual onboard the Sanya Lan. It was a pretty uneventful first night with only a few rain clouds that washed off the some of the dust and sand that we had gathered on deck while in Madagascar. We are making our way NE with around 12 knots of boat speed tacking upwind every so often.'
The boat feels good and we are all genuinely happy to be making progress in finishing our first leg.Richard Mason has done a top job in preparing our route for this part of the leg and continuously briefs us all on the ever-changing weather patterns that often surround the Indian Ocean. There is also excitement surrounding Leg 3 in that it is our homecoming into Sanya where only Tiger has been before.
Tiger has been filling us on the work that has been done there and promises that it will be a stopover that we certainly won’t forget. I am personally looking forward to sailing back in Asia in the waters that I grew up sailing in, having grown up in the Philippines.
Although having never been to Sanya, which is in the Hainan province of China, I have sailed up and near the area, having done a few China Sea races, which is from Hong Kong to Manila.
One of my favorite offshore races remains the Hong Kong to Vietnam race which is essentially the opposite of the passage we will take to head to Sanya.
Needless to say it is a new place for all of us, and is often described as the 'Hawaii of the Orient,' and that certainly sounds good to us!'
Soriano said the team were racing against time to get to the safe haven port in time to allow them to prepare for the start of the second phase of Leg 3.
'Right now, we are looking at no more than four full days before we restart and head for China,' he said. 'Needless to say we have quite a bit on in a short period of time, and we are working hard to tick little jobs off when we can during this journey.
'We have once again put an immense amount of pressure on our shore team to produce miracles, but as they have so far shown, no task is too big or immense for the team and will without a doubt take it on headfirst.'
Volvo Ocean Race website