New Zealand skipper Mike Sanderson was welcomed home to the waters of his motherland with fierce waves and near gale-forced winds - but as he writes in his last blog of Leg 4, Team Sanya's fingers are still crossed for a last-minute upset.
"There still looks like some potential for tricky weather wise on the Northland coast so let's hope that happens and the Northland boy skipper can have his turn" - Mike Sanderson, Team Sanya
New Zealand was named Aotearoa by the Maoris when they settled there due to the long white cloud that announced its arrival on the horizon. For us if we were the ones naming it all those years ago I must look up what " land of the short, steep wave" would be in Maori, as that is what our last 36 hours has been all about, bashing and crashing at over 12 knots upwind into these heinous short steep waves.
Position-wise the location of the high pressure system enabled Abu Dhabi and ourselves to cut the corner on the guys in front, for us that has paid us back for what we lost by being further north a week ago, so we feel justice was done. We even had one brief moment of passing Abu Dhabi when she was the first of us to tack north, but as we were forced to follow suit our gain came back down from 30 on them to a more realistic 15.
We have been going fine on them which I am sure will only add to their frustration, it's one thing getting beaten by the other new boats, but to have the old girl of the fleet knocking on their door won't be fun. There still looks like some potential for tricky weather wise on the Northland coast so let's hope that happens and the Northland boy skipper can have his turn. I really don't think we deserve to come last in this leg, fingers crossed.
Okay, so to our last two crew members, the boys in charge of the watches: Cameron Dunn and Richard Mason.
Let's start with Cam. Cam and I have literally done thousands and thousands of hours sailing together, from 2000 to 2003 he did the traveller and I did the mainsheet at Oracle, the America's Cup team.. So we know each other well and have been mates since, he also did the Mari Cha IV program with me and in fact I asked him to sail on ABN AMRO in the 2005/06 race, but he had just signed a new AC contract. Cam is a very gifted sailor, was extremely successful in NZ in the dinghy classes and although missed out on an Olympic spot, has been in a coaching capacity. What Cam brings to Team Sanya is short course intensity and attention to detail, it's bloody good to be yachting with him again and I really hope our upwind tour to date doesn't put Cam off the Volvo for the future, because he is good at it.
Then there is Richard Mason.... Well, only because I am pretty sure he won't read this will I say it, but Richard Mason is basically the perfect Volvo sailor.. 105 kgs, strong as an ox, can fix anything, fast helmsman and trimmer and above all that is for sure one of the races great character's, just a bloody good dude.. If Magnus Ollsen has retired from the Volvo, which I am not saying he has, then Richard will fill his shoes as the " personality of the race"... we are very lucky to have them both.. The guys like sailing with them, and first and foremost that will always get the best out of a cold, tired and hungry Volvo sailor.
Hopefully this is my last blog for the leg, fingers crossed we will finish in the hours of daylight tomorrow. The stopover is ridiculously short, but don't get me started on that. Next up it's the Southern Ocean leg.... Bring it on.
Thanks again for keeping a watchful eye on us, it's greatly appreciated.