Volvo Ocean Race - Team Sanya arrive in Alicante

Team Sanya arrive in Alicante for the Volvo Ocean Race
Volvo Ocean Race/Paul Todd©
Mike Sanderson's crew, who used the trip from the UK as their 2,000 mile qualifying sail, are the second of the entries to arrive in Alicante, where the race will start on October 29. Team Telefónica set up camp on Tuesday.

Sanderson said that being in Alicante was a significant milestone given that the project only launched in June.

'Arriving in Alicante means we have entered the final phase before the start of the Volvo Ocean Race,' said Sanderson, whose team demolished 11 double whoppers and 21 cheeseburgers within minutes of stepping ashore. 'The bonus is that we are exactly where we hoped to be – not behind and not ahead of schedule.'

According to Sanderson, the extreme conditions helped the crew to gel and build their confidence in their second-hand boat Sanya, which raced as Telefónica Blue in the previous edition.

'This was our Volvo Ocean Race qualification trip but we have also been able to put the boat and the crew through its paces on the way. This is a great boat and she feels really fast compared to the last race I did in 2005-06.'

For Chinese sailor Teng Jiang He, known to his new team mates as Tiger, this was the longest time he had ever spent at sea. Seemingly undaunted, he said the experience had been hard work and uncomfortable but enjoyable nevertheless.

'At times it has been wet and it’s been windy and very hard but always for me this has been a great experience,' he said. 'We have been travelling very fast in the windy conditions – on several days we did over 500 nautical miles in 24-hours. Now we are here in the Alicante sunshine and we are all very pleased to be here.'

Sanderson said that all the crew were impressed with how quickly Tiger had adapted to life aboard a Volvo Open 70.

'It wasn’t in our wildest dreams that we imagined we would find a Chinese sailor who would become so adept at ocean sailing so quickly. He fits in really well and works incredibly hard. He is a great team member, a real character and he is just a pleasure to be around.'

The latest crewmember to join the Team Sanya crew, 28-year old Bert Schandevyl from Belgium had done just two weeks of training before setting off for Alicante and a race that will not finish until July.

'I had to say to my girlfriend, my family, my friends that I'm off, I'm leaving for nine months,' he said. 'But I'm living a dream. I'm walking on cloud nine right now.

'I love the spirit of the team. We have a very experienced skipper and there are some really good people involved. I hope we can cause a few upsets sometimes.'

Echoing Schandevyl’s sentiment, Sanderson reaffirmed his team’s overall goal for the forthcoming edition of the Volvo Ocean Race.

'Our aim remains to get on the podium a few times, get in the other teams' way, take some points off them and hopefully have some fun along the way.'

Volvo Ocean Race website