Sanya will make their return to racing in time for Leg 7’s transatlantic run from Miami to Lisbon and for skipper Mike Sanderson that represents a return to a part of the world he regards as his specialist area.
After years of racing and record-breaking across the Atlantic, the Sanya skipper is so at home with the ocean and its weather systems he feels he knows it better than his home waters around New Zealand.
“I’m looking forward to the next leg – I know that bit of the world well,” said Sanderson, whose team will rejoin the fleet ahead of the PortMiami In-Port Race on May 19 and the start of Leg 7 the following day.
“I was telling my guys as we came into Auckland that I’m probably more familiar with the North Atlantic and its weather systems than I am with the Pacific.
“I’ve just done so many more Atlantic crossings than anything else.”
In 2003 Sanderson smashed the transatlantic record on 140ft superyacht Mari Cha IV by two days, setting a new time of six days, 17 hours, 52 minutes and 39 seconds.
He also skippered his ABN AMRO ONE team to victory from New York to Portsmouth in 2005-06, though his memories of that leg will forever be of the tragic death of Hans Horrevoets from sister boat ABN AMRO TWO.
“Out of respect, out of grief, we will all be thinking about Hans on this next leg,” Sanderson said. “It was the biggest tragedy of our era of the Volvo Ocean Race. It’s always going to be significant.”
Although the route from Miami to Lisbon in this race is not a typical crossing, Sanderson reckons the fleet could still end up sailing a more traditional course high into the North Atlantic if the right weather conditions occur.
“One thing that’s a bit different is that we’re leaving from a long way south and we’re arriving a lot further south,” he added.
“If it was New York to the Lizard I’d be very familiar with that bit of the world but leaving from Miami and going to Lisbon is a bit different.
“There are many scenarios where we actually sail up to New York and then sail a traditional leg across the Atlantic and down to Lisbon from the English Channel.
“It might end up being quite a traditional Atlantic crossing.”
Team Sanya, the race’s first sole Chinese Entry, were forced to pull out of Leg 5 while leading the fleet after sustaining damage, and were left with no choice but to ship their boat to Savannah in the United States, missing Leg 6.
Sanderson said although his team would have suffered from losing out on six weeks of close combat racing with their Volvo Ocean Race rivals, they were eager to get back into action.
“Since the boat arrived in Savannah it’s felt like we’re back in the campaign, whereas when the boat’s on a ship your hands are tied,” he said.
“We’re just looking forward to getting back into the race. We can’t wait to max it up and get in everyone’s way again – that’s what we’re all about.”
Sanya’s shore crew are currently working on the repairs in Savannah before the sailors take the boat to Miami.
Due to technical problems, the latest position report could not be issued. The Volvo Ocean Race team is working on fixing the issues as soon as possible.