Volvo Ocean Race: Team Sanya skipper Sanderson may miss qualifying leg

Mike Sanderson at the helm of Team Sanya as she prepared for the Rolex Fastnet Race. Image: Team Sanya
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Volvo Ocean Race skipper Mike Sanderson was rushed to hospital yesterday evening for an emergency appendicitis operation and now looks set to miss the qualifying leg in just over a week.

Team Sanya skippered by Mike Sanderson arrive in the start city of Alicante, where they will continue training for the start of the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12. - Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12
skipper of Team Sanya said from his hospital bed in Alicante that his chances of participation in next Friday’s (October 7) Volvo Ocean Race qualifying leg from the southern Spanish port are 'marginal'.

However, his participation in the race proper is not in doubt.

'I am supported by a great team and am safe in the knowledge that everything will be progressing forward just as planned and bound to be in great shape when I make it back to work 100 per cent,' the 2005-06 Volvo Ocean race winner said.

Normally, patients who have had operations of this kind need around two weeks to recover.

The 40-year-old New Zealander suffered severe stomach pains on a flight to Alicante having first experienced discomfort while sailing on another boat earlier in the week in France.

He had the operation shortly after landing in Spain.

'It was incredibly painful and I'm not sure how I managed the trip back from France to Spain - the homing instinct set in for sure,' Sanderson added.

'The doctors and the hospital here in Alicante have been amazing and everything happened very quickly. I'm allowed home tomorrow and so won't be out of action for too long.

'It looks marginal for me to be able to do the qualifier that starts on October 7 but I have every confidence in the guys and they can take that on no problem.'

Ocean Race chief executive Knut Frostad said: 'This is the worst thing that can happen when you’re in the middle of the ocean as Mike would have been in just six or seven weeks’ time.

Team Sanya arrive in Alicante for the Volvo Ocean Race
Volvo Ocean Race/Paul Todd©
There’s nothing really that can be done until you get medical help on land for this kind of thing.'

The three-day, 600-nautical mile qualifying race begins on October 7 and will finish three days later.

The first In-Port Race for the Volvo Ocean Race will be held in Alicante on October 29 before the fleet heads for Cape Town on November 5.

'There is no chance of him missing the start of the racing at the end of the month,' said a spokesman for Team Sanya, the first ever Chinese entry in the Volvo Ocean Race.

The 39,000 nautical mile, nine-month offshore Volvo Ocean Race is regarded by sailors as the sport’s Everest and has taken five lives during its 38-year history.

Sanderson won the ninth edition in 2005-2006 on ABN Amro One and is regarded as one of the finest skippers in yachting.

Volvo Ocean Race website