One by one the six Volvo Open 70s are returning to the water and getting back in action ahead of the race weekend.
The first team to hit the waters of Sanya Bay were CAMPER with Emirates Team New Zealand who touched down on Sunday morning and were practice sailing by the afternoon.
Team Telefónica also returned to the water on Sunday, with PUMA Ocean Racing, Groupama sailing team and Team Sanya joining them on Monday. Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing’s Azzam is scheduled to be lifted on Tuesday.
It has been a turning point for Team Sanya’s shore crew who have not only had the first opportunity in almost two months to get their boat out of the water, but also to complete repairs to their broken winch pod.
Shore crew manager David Duff said his team were set to be sailing by Tuesday and testing a new downwind sail after a successful shakedown.
“This is the first opportunity since Cape Town for us to get her out of the water and get the hull back to the conditions it should be in,” he said.
“The pod is also fixed and it was a pretty simple fix in the end. We may never know what the cause was; you can only assume a few things. We’re confident it won’t happen again — when you rebuild something you build it stronger than before.”
Telefónica’s technical director Horacio Carabelli said his team have not only been working in preparation for the Leg 4 race to Auckland, they are also setting themselves up for Leg 5 given the stopover in New Zealand is likely to be around 10 days.
Carabelli, a two time Volvo competitor who was part of Ericsson 4’s winning crew last time, said the team were in good stead and set to get sailing on Tuesday.
“Tomorrow and the day after we will be sailing in preparation for the Sanya Haitang Bay In-Port race on the 18th,” he said. “We’ve been working very hard to have the boat up and running well, it’s in really good shape.”
CAMPER crew manager Neil Cox said it had been one of the more relaxing stopovers for his shore crew, although they have still pulled 15-hour work days.
However Cox’s crew were indulged by the rare opportunity to take CAMPER sailing, with several members of the shore crew hitting the water with skipper Chris Nicholson, co-navigator/pitman Andrew McLean and helmsmen/trimmers Tony Rae and Adam Minoprio on Sunday.
“The sailors need their time off and given the shore crew are all competent sailors in their own right we took her out form some sail testing,” he said. “It was a top day.”
Despite working behind the scenes Cox said his crew were never left wanting for credit for their tough work.
“We did have the three sailors yesterday putting their hands up without prompting saying they wanted to buy us a beer, so that’s always good,” he said.
With the DHL Shore Crew Award set to be announced on Thursday Cox admitted that receiving a trophy may almost top getting a beer for whoever is named the winner.
“It’s great to have people outside of your team acknowledge what you’re doing,” he said. “It’s a great boost for morale and gives everyone on all the teams that bit of motivation.”
Previous winners of the DHL Shore Crew Award are Team Sanya for Leg 1 and PUMA Ocean Racing powered by BERG for Leg 2.