Volvo Ocean Race: Shore Sprint Just Beginning for Sanderson and Sanya

Photo by Andres Soriano / Team Sanya.

Six years ago Mike Sanderson sailed into Cape Town on cloud nine after winning the opening leg of the Volvo Ocean Race – but it couldn’t have been any different for the New Zealand skipper as he arrived back in the ‘Tavern of the Sea’ this week.

Sanderson said travelling to South Africa via plane instead of on his team’s Volvo Open 70 “sucked” – but promised Team Sanya would be on the start line for the second in-port race.

“I have always loved arriving into Cape Town,” Sanderson said. “I have many fond memories, coming second in here on Merit Cup in 1997 but mainly the huge moment of winning the first leg of the 2005-06 Volvo Ocean Race on ABN AMRO ONE.

“Seeing Table Mountain for the first time this week from a South African Airlines plane wasn’t quite the same! Yes I was a lot less smelly and I was lucky enough to be travelling with my family, but apart from that it sucked… I was supposed to be racing in here on the mighty Sanya Lan with all my crew mates, not standing in the customs queue pretending I was coming here on holiday!”

Team Sanya have been locked in a logistical race against time since pulling out of the first leg from Alicante to Cape Town when their yacht suffered severe hull damage. Thanks to the combined efforts of Sanya’s shore team, DHL, Volvo Trucks and Maersk Line, the team were able to transport Sanya to Gibraltar where she was loaded onto a container ship bound for Cape Town.

“We now have a boat sitting on a ship with extra fuel to go faster and a new schedule to get our boat directly to Cape Town,” Sanderson added.

Although their yacht won’t arrive in Cape Town until the end of November, Sanderson said work is due to start tomorrow on the substitute bow section needed to replace the area damaged in the first night’s storms.

“Tomorrow the team of boatbuilders from Greg Salthouse’s will turn up and get into building the mould for the new piece of bow,” Sanderson added. “Everyone in Cape Town has been fantastic and we are constantly getting offers of help. The job is going to be a massive effort, but I have every faith in Greg Salthouse and all of our own guys. We will be there come the In-Port Race number two!”

Meanwhile back in Lisbon Portugal, having been loaded the previous night, Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing’s Azzam also left for Cape Town aboard the Red Cedar cargo ship. Azzam was loaded on a custom made cradle with her keel on and her precious one remaining mast packed horizontally on the deck. A 40 foot container of spares and equipment was also loaded aboard the ship which, subject to weather conditions on the way is expected to arrive in Cape Town on or around November 28.