The Volvo Ocean Race has posed challenges and obstacles for Team Sanya but, the crew are now nearing the home stretch and have only the frustration of testing beating conditions standing between them and the Leg 2 Stage 1 finish at the safe haven port in the Indian Ocean.
The crew clocked up speeds in excess of 20 knots overnight before hitting the head winds early on Tuesday morning. At 1000 UTC they were cruising at 12 knots of boat speed in a northerly breeze of the same measurement.
Media Crew Member Andres Soriano said the overnight racing was 'Fun, full of enjoyment and over all too soon'.
'We exited the trades at around 1700 and shot forward ticking off the miles at an average of 15 knots, ploughing through warm waves and then being rinsed off by cool short rain squalls that brought a few hours of 20 kts plus sailing,’’ he said. 'Spirits were high as we sent it towards the mark.'
Helmsman/trimmer Ryan Houston described the experience as being similar to the freedom of escaping the clutch of the daily nine to five grind.
'The Doldrums is like a bad week at work, but then comes the end of the week, and you have that blast of a drive home on Friday afternoon, that’s the westerly trades,' he said.
For now, the indulgence of the trades may well be over and the rigors of upwind sailing a reality for the seven-strong crew.
'Tiger' Teng Jiang He is starting to fancy himself a helmsman as he continues to notch up time with the wheel in his grip, reported stand-in skipper Richard Mason.
'Tiger has been having a great time this trip,’’ he said. 'I think Moose (Mike Sanderson) could have a few issues when we get in because Tiger rates himself pretty highly as a helmsman.
'You should have heard him on deck last night. You would have thought he was driving a Formula 1 car. We were reaching along doing 22 knots and Tiger was on the helm – he was the happiest man in the world.
'It’s fantastic to see. Here’s a fish; who in many regards couldn’t be further out of water but boy oh boy has he learnt to swim.'
Under race rules, Team Sanya will pick up four points for Leg 2 Stage 1, one point for Leg 2 Stage 2 and two points for the Etihad Airways In-Port Race, providing they arrive at the safe haven under racing conditions.
The remainder of the fleet continues to transit the worst affected piracy waters on board a ship, with racing set to resume around January 22.
Volvo Ocean Race website