TEAM Sanya's skipper Mike Sanderson has launched a search for sailing superstars in China after appealing for help in finding three to four Chinese crewmen for his campaign to win the Volvo Ocean Race for the third time.
The 40-year-old Kiwi says he wants to "win the hearts of the Chinese people" with his bid which is being backed by the government in a rare show of financial support for a sports team of any kind.
To do that, Sanderson knows he must secure home involvement in his 11-man crew but the skipper from Auckland realizes he cannot afford to be anything other than picky for sailing's toughest offshore race starting on October 29 in Alicante, Spain.
"More than anything, I need to find someone who is at home on the sea," the New Zealander said.
"It's such a long time (nine months) out there. You need to feel super comfortable – well, as much as you can do over that period of time. Equally, they'll need to be fit and strong and we'll be wanting no prima donnas."
Sanderson can expect a deluge of applications from a nation slowly realizing its huge potential in the sport. He will give a short list of applicants a thorough sailing test before deciding on his final choices of "three or four" Chinese sailors who will make up the crew with more experienced operators.
"I am looking for the next sailing superstar from China," said Sanderson, who faces competition from some of the sport's leading helmsmen in the upcoming race, including American Ken Read of German entry Puma and Frenchman Franck Cammas who helms his country's first entry in the race for 17 years on Groupama.
Sanderson won the 2005-2006 edition as helmsman of Dutch entry ABN Amro 1 and was named the 2006 World Sailor of the Year.


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