Volvo Ocean Race - Team Sanya repairs under way

Team Sanya arrive in Cape Town after retiring from leg 1 due to severe damage. Team Sanya are currently building a replacement bow section that is currently being fitted - Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12
Sanya arrived in Cape Town by container ship on Wednesday and ever since the pace of work has been incredible. Within half an hour of getting to the boat into dock the team had made a rough cut of the damaged area and since then it's been a case of cutting back and back.

'It's a bit like when you get your first car and you go for the first safety inspection and they keep chopping rust out of it until you end up with no car left,' said Team Sanya skipper Mike Sanderson.

'Basically, this was a very safe cut and the guys have to keep working back until we get to real boat -- boat that hasn't been ripped apart. The hole will get bigger.'

The six-person team from Salthouse Boatbuilders in New Zealand had to make the replacement section generously oversized as until now they had been unable to fully assess the damage. Now the boat has arrived safely back, they are ready to trim the new piece to size.

'Luckily, it looks like the new bit we've built will be big enough and hopefully in two or three days' time we'll have a complete boat, an almost watertight boat, and then four days after that we'll have a structurally integral boat,' said Sanderson.

'Where the repairs are done will end up being the strongest part of the boat. It will be as good or better than new.'

The repair work will continue without pause as the team bid to get the boat back in water by December 7. That will give them enough time to test and fine-tune to be ready for the Cape Town In-Port Race on December 10, or so Sanderson hopes.

'It's certainly a less than ideal scenario,' he said. 'The Volvo Ocean Race is all about preparation and having everything ready. There's a fairly large hole here that is only going to get larger before it gets smaller.

'But we do have a timeline. The plans are incredibly tight, with no room for things going bad, but at this stage we're still on track.

'We should be taking three weeks to do this and we've got a week. It doesn't mean we're taking unnecessary risks but we'll be working long into the night.

'We'll be lucky to get any sailing in at all before the In-Port Race and we have the leg start the next day but the safety of the boat and the crew are of the highest priority. We'll make sure she's back in one piece.'

Sanya were one of three teams forced to ship their boats to Cape Town after retiring from a fraught Leg 1.

Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing also arrived in Cape Town by container ship on Wednesday after losing her rig on the first night.

Puma Ocean Racing powered by Berg have sent a ship to the remote settlement of Tristan da Cunha to pick up the boat and crew and bring them back. Their best case ETA is December 6.

Volvo Ocean Race website