The stop-start section of the disrupted Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12 finally came to an end this weekend after the race boats were unloaded from a ship in the Maldives in readiness for the difficult next leg to Sanya in China.  
Following the safe completion of the operation to unload five fully rigged yachts from a cargo ship, after their passage through the pirate laden Indian Ocean, organisers revealed the ‘safe haven’ which had been kept a secret, was Male in the Maldives, where the Volvo Ocean Race will restart on Sunday night.
Mike Sanderson’s Team Sanya has rejoined the fleet after they completed the first section of the second leg to earn five valuable points which will see the full six boat fleet on the race track for the first time since the boats left Cape Town on the second leg in December.
"I don't think I have ever been so amped up to get back out and go racing,’’ Sanderson said.
"We owe it to everyone, and ourselves to go and have a decent leg and get this show back on the right track.
"The boat is great and the team is one of the most wonderful group that I have been involved with, I really can't say enough good things about them. Through thick and thin they have just dug it in and done what needs to be done and some.”
Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing earned the psychological advantage last Saturday by winning the first 106 mile sprint from Abu Dhabi to Sharjah but Telefonica remain overall leaders with a tight seven point lead over second placed Camper.
"We've got ourselves a Master's degree in improvising, and loading and unloading yachts onto ships,” said Iker Martínez, Telefónica skipper.
"Now we can focus on getting back to sailing and being back on the boat together to fight for the race which is why we are all here.”
The next 3,300 nm leg to Sanya in China is one that is being dreaded by crews and navigators.
Petty thieves, congested waters, fishing nets and massive debris in the waters are all set to create headaches for skippers on top of wind holes and a final deeply uncomfortable headwind bash to the destination.
"We expect upwind conditions, wind on the nose, for most the time,’’ said Groupama’s Franck Cammas.
"Not a lot of wind, so not necessarily the best conditions for Groupama, but we will see. It’s not exactly the best leg for us, statistically speaking, as it’s not a leg where the boats are going to go very quickly. But we will see, it will be a very good exercise.”
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