As Team Sanya load its boat onto a ship for the second time in the Volvo Ocean Race, skipper Mike Sanderson comes to terms with pulling out of Leg 5 – and looks forward what the rest of the race has in store.

You would have thought that after a five-day trip heading in the opposite direction to the rest of the fleet that I would now fully have my head around the fact that we are out of this leg of the race, but I have to confess that it all hit pretty hard when we pulled the mast out of the boat. It really felt like we were literally dismantling our race boat, which of course we were, but until then we had been racing. Okay, not racing towards Brazil, but racing back to meet a tight shipping schedule. On seeing the rig come out for sure it signalled the end of the leg for us, which is hard to accept.

Luckily in this race there is never a whole lot of time to dwell on those moments. Since hitting the dock here in Tauranga, New Zealand, our time has been busy, the boat needed to be all packed up, cleaned and inspected as much as possible so that we really knew what we had on the job list for when we get the boat in the US. We have been blessed in Tauranga by fantastic weather and that has made it all so much easier to get cleaned, dried and packed. The people of Tauranga have been amazing, basically it feels like the whole town has chipped in to give us a hand, from the local port giving us space and cranes and just generally being as helpful as possible to the local coastguard who have provided their kitchen for our local chef to cook us meals. It has all just been amazing and has made me very proud to be a Kiwi I have to say. To have had this help after the wonderful Auckland stopover really has showcased our little country to all the rest of the guys in the team.

And once again Maersk Line shipping in collaboration with DHL have really saved us, there is no way that our budget could have absorbed shipping this boat half way across the world without their support, so to all the wonderful people that have helped, thank you all so very very much.


So, what to now – well, there is no doubt that we have been on the up lately and so we need to do everything we can to try and keep as much momentum as possible. The fact of the matter is that we will be back as a team in just four weeks, so it's really not that long. The set back is that we will lose a lot of quality sailing. There is no doubt that the other guys will just get better and better, but we can just do what we can do. In the mean time, we will keep the pressure on, the sailing team will work on their size and strength as well as keeping cardio up and I will lead the performance team to ensure that we keep learning the whole time from all the data that we collect any time the boat is sailing. We have to make sure we make the most of our time. Personally for me I will get back into my running. I find when I have good cardio fitness I can get away with less sleep while racing, all a bonus for when we get to the shorter Atlantic legs.

Finally can I take this opportunity to thank you all for all your wonderful support, it means the world to us, this is one of the most wonderful teams that I have been a part of, there really are some great fighters here and we will be back!

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