In the Volvo Ocean Race, skipper Mike Sanderson was able to watch his rivals in action in Abu Dhabi today whilst Team Sanya’s sailors were celebrating a significant milestone in their race to the safe have port: reaching the Trade winds.
Comeback kids Sanya have sailed upwind since setting sail from Madagascar on January 7 but their arrival in the trades means favourable winds and much more comfortable sailing conditions for boat and crew. Already they have seen their boat speed rocket to more than 14 knots in just 15 knots of breeze.
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’s a bloody fantastic feeling to finally be into the trades, especially because it took so long to get here, now we can enjoy some champagne sailing!' said watch captain and stand-in skipper Richard Mason.
'Temperatures are much warmer and everyone is feeling better by the moment. We are pointing at the mark, and now hopefully we can start churning up the miles.'
Bowman Bert Schandevyl added: 'A cold beer would make this a slice of heaven right about now, it doesn’t get any better than this.'
However, the champagne sailing won’t last for too long before they will face the Doldrums, the band of variable low pressure that sits south of the Equator in the Indian Ocean.
Assuming Team Sanya reach the safe haven port under racing conditions, they will collect four points for sixth place for the first stage of Leg 2 and then automatically add one more 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.
Volvo Ocean Race website