Team Sanya will make their return to competitive action in the Volvo Ocean Race in Miami following the rudder and hull damage that has forced them to head back towards New Zealand on Leg 5, with the team reluctantly announcing on Monday that all options that would get the boat back in the race in Brazil have now been exhausted.

The damage which occurred on March 22 meant the Sanya could not carry on racing into the Southern Ocean, with the team unable to deploy the reserve race rudder as the bearings had been mangled. They are using the emergency rudder over the stern of the boat to sail to New Zealand and the shore team have spent the last four days investigating all options on how they might get back into the race as quickly as possible.

Unfortunately, it has not been possible to arrange for the boat to Itajaí in time, meaning they will miss Leg 6 and return in time for the Miami In-Port Race on May 19 and the start of Leg 7 to Lisbon on May 20.

The race boat and team are due to reach Tauranga in New Zealand on the evening of Tuesday, March 27, where they will immediately prepare the boat for shipment from Tauranga to Savannah in the United States. The Maersk Line ship ‘Maersk Bratan’ departs on the evening of Thursday, March 29 and is due to reach Savannah on April 27.

Once the repairs have been completed, the team will sail the boat to Miami.

This solution was agreed upon only after the team researched all options to try and get the boat from New Zealand to Itajaí in Brazil. The lack of time means that they would not have time to sail back to New Zealand, carry out the required repairs and rejoin Leg 5. That fact, combined with the danger of sailing in the Southern Ocean completely alone and separated from the rest of the fleet, has forced the team to retire from Leg 5 and not compete in Leg 6 (from Itajaí to Miami) which is "gutting" to the team and all involved, according to skipper Mike Sanderson.

David Duff, COO for Team Sanya, explained the process the team has been through since Thursday:

"For sure the initial focus was on assessing if the guys could resume racing in Leg 5 but time is against us as they need five days to sail back to New Zealand, a further 5-6 days to carry out the repair and then the 20 days for the leg which meant they could only reach Itajaí after the other boats had left on Leg 6.

"We then turned our focus to finding a ship to get our race boat from New Zealand to Brazil. We have had huge support from the Volvo Ocean Race organisation and the race’s official logistics partner DHL and our own Team Shipping Partner Maersk Line as well as Volvo Cars in New Zealand. With all of their help we have explored every possible transport option and sadly there are no shipping solutions that can get us from New Zealand to Brazil before the Leg 6 re-start.

"Once we reach Savannah, we will re-assemble our shore team there and carry out the necessary repairs and then sail the race boat for the 350 mile trip from Savannah to Miami as a shake-down opportunity and we should be in place in Miami in early May – in line with the other race boats that are expected there on May 6.”

Mike Sanderson, Team Sanya CEO & Skipper, commented from the race boat on the next plan of action:

"For sure we are absolutely gutted to find ourselves for the third time in a devastating position. Twice now we have been leading the fleet only to encounter a major issue forcing us out of the leg. That said, we are as focused as ever to get back into the race and to make our sponsors and fans proud. The support we have received from the event and team partners has been amazing – for sure we could not achieve this without them. That coupled with the overwhelming number of messages of support from friends, families and fans has helped us all the focus our determination on getting back into this race.

"Right now it’s a case of pushing the boat as fast as we can to reach Tauranga in time as our turn-around time there is very tight – and trying to do that with a damaged hull and emergency rudder is not ideal. But we will make it happen and Team Sanya will be back in action before you know it.”

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