Volvo Ocean Race - 'Down but not out' says Team Sanya skipper

Team Sanya during leg 2 of the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12
Andres Soriano/Team Sanya/Volvo Ocean Race
The Volvo Ocean Race crew aboard Team Sanya suffered damage to part of their rigging early on Monday but, skipper Mike Sanderson maintains that his team will be back in the race for Leg 3 to their home port of Sanya.

There were no injuries as a result of the incident and the crew are all safe. The incident means Sanya are highly likely to have to rejoin the race for the second stage of Leg 3 rather than in Leg 2. The damage was to a vital piece of the mast’s supporting rigging called the D2.


Team Sanya are sailing towards the town of Tolagnero in the south east of Madagascar, with an ETA of Tuesday at 0700 UTC. They will be able to berth there at the new port of Ehoala, where they will finalise a plan to get back in the race. Shore manager Nick Bice and rigger Frano Tregasgis will also arrive there on Tuesday to meet the team and assist in the repair plan.

'Today was a huge blow, for sure one of the worst I have had in my Whitbread/Volvo Ocean Race career,' said skipper and team CEO Mike Sanderson.

'The whole team had just done the most amazing job to get us back for Leg 2 after our collision with an obstacle on Leg 1. To then be forced out of this leg whilst leading the fleet with a rigging failure just feels like such a letdown -- but rest assured we will be back for sure for Leg 3.

Team Sanya during leg 2 of the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12, from Cape Town, South Africa to Abu Dhabi, UAE. (Credit: AndrŽs Soriano/Team Sanya/Volvo Ocean Race)
Andres Soriano/Team Sanya/Volvo Ocean Race
'That just has to happen. We made miracles happen to be on the start line for the second leg and now we need to do it again to be able to join the third leg to Sanya. Don’t give up on us! We certainly haven’t lost one bit of faith and we know that we have what it takes to make our team, our families, our sponsors and our growing number of fans proud.'

Because of the anti-piracy plans drawn up by organisers for Legs 2 and 3, the fleet is currently heading towards an undisclosed 'safe haven' port in the Indian Ocean. The boats are due to be loaded onto a ship at that port and transported to a point off the Sharjah coast to resume racing with a sprint into Abu Dhabi.

Race rules mean that Sanya will still score points for Leg 2, the In-Port Race in Abu Dhabi and the first stage of Leg 3 if they cross the finish line at the safe haven port under racing conditions at some point.

Their goal will be to repair the boat, complete the first stage of Leg 2 and then rejoin the fleet when they return by ship after the first stage of Leg 3, which will take the fleet on to the team's home port of Sanya.

Sanya were forced to retire from Leg 1 but the shore crew performed heroics to get the boat repaired in time for the Cape Town In-Port Race and the start of Leg 2 earlier this month.

Sanya Government Deputy Mayor, Mr. Wu Yanjun, showed his support and sent his best wishes to the team: 'The adversity and misfortune that Team Sanya has experienced since the race got started often reminds me of the Long March of the Red Army in China in 1930s --even though the hardship and failures never get out of the way, the victory and successes are just awaiting around the corner. I sincerely wish Team Sanya the best of luck while we are anticipating the team's arrival in Sanya in February of next year.'

* Sanya could still score points in Leg 2 if they finish in the 'safe haven' port and comply with the race rules. There is no time limit for them to do this. Sixth place, for example, would earn them four points.

Under the race rules, they will also score points for the racing they miss in and out of Abu Dhabi on Legs 2 and 3, and for the In-Port Race. Assuming that they are the only boat in this situation and at some stage they do make it to the safe haven port having complied with the rules, their points breakdown would be as follows:

- Leg 2, Cape Town to Safe Haven 1 -- 4 points for sixth place
- Leg 2, closing sprint into Abu Dhabi -- 1 point for sixth place
- Abu Dhabi In-Port Race -- 2 points, as the average for her performances on the two previous in-port races (fourth in Alicante, sixth in Cape Town)
- Leg 3 Stage 1 -- the corresponding points for her final position on Leg 3. So, if Team Sanya finish first in Stage 2 of Leg 3 into Sanya they would receive the full 30 points. Or 25 for second, 20 for third, 15 for fourth, 10 for fifth and 5 for sixth.

Volvo Ocean Race website