Mike Sanderson: Sitting out leg six
Mike Sanderson: Sitting out leg six
By the time you read this, the rest of the fleet will have started the latest leg to Miami. While the fleet was all having problems of their own, it was easier to not be in the race, now that they are fully re-grouped and are back starting a new leg fully fixed and back into it, it feels pretty lonely for us not being able to be a part of it.
The InPort race that we missed was once again a tricky one, just the sort of race that we would have stood a chance of finishing on the podium. We have shown by leading the fleet around the inshore lap section of the Auckland start that given a clear lane and a nice little jump off the start line that we can stay in front, especially if there isn't too much windy reaching. But it's not to be right now.
Back in our World, things have gone as well as they could have. Maersk Line Shipping have once again done wonderful work and will get the boat all the way from Tauranga, NZ to Savannah in Georgia on the East Coast of the US in record time (arrives 27th April). The shore crew fly up to meet it on Tuesday 24th April and hopefully we will have our hands on the boat by Thursday afternoon. From there on, we don't have as much time as you would expect, the boat literally got lifted straight out of the water in Tauranga onto the ship. You may have read that we came across a little bit of a daunting surprise on lifting the boat, a pretty scary looking 1.5m crack in the bottom of the boat, down aft, running from where the propeller goes up into the hull heading towards the broken rudder. Who knows what came first and if one lead to the other, the only thing I do know is that we were very lucky that we turned around, the damage was through the outside skin, so it wouldn't have taken long before we would have been faced with the crack opening up and starting to tear itself to bits.. It looks like we are a lucky team after all!!
So while we are on damage subject, I think its a good time to give you my perspective on why the fleet had so many issues on this last leg. Firstly as everyone is saying you have to divide the two problems up. For sure there have been structural problems and there have been rig problems. For me the rule makers with regards to the structures thought they had done the right thing with the rule to make the boats have "spare weight" in the assumption that the teams would put this into the strength of the boats. At the same time they upped the structural requirement of the rule with regards to meeting a different set of International standards. This, at first glance, all seems to be a positive - there was however one little loophole though which all the teams have jumped through and that is what state you could weigh your boat in. Telefonica Blue last time was one of the two lightest boats in the fleet, now "sailing weight" wise so if you just picked the boat up when we are at the dock (without sails on it...) the new boats probably sail 250 kgs lighter then we can on what was Tele Blue. SO the bottom line is that the additional weight didn't end up being spare after all, the teams have used it instead of strengthening the boats to add all the bits into the weight equation that they can get away with, a particularly large bonus if that weight happens to be stackable!! For sure this is something that needs to get sorted out for the next race if the rule stays around.
Then the second issue with regards to rigs - for me this is due to the fact that the teams simply were not able to spend enough time on the water with their equipment leading up to the start. With ABN AMRO, we spent six months pretty much sailing with the same rigging set up that we were going to use in the race, with Team Sanya we were not able to do even six weeks!! We just didn't have the time. For the next race IF everyone feels that the teams just won't be doing the time on the water, then we will probably have to take a more conservative approach with things like rigging, but they will have to make it a rule, as when the time comes of course everyone realises that you need reliability and you need to finish to win, but also there aren't that many areas that there are any gains left on the table and rigging is one of them...
So for me and the whole of Team Sanya luckily Miami now doesn't seem like that far away. We all arrive up there over the next two weeks and soon enough we will be back out yachting in the mighty Sanya Lan, as much grief as she has given us we do still love her, and we will miss terribly not being amongst it on this leg... but it now feels like we are on our way back into the race....
Thanks for checking in on us..