The expert mainsail trimming of Sanya’s newcomer Martin Kirketerp helped power the team to their best result in four months, giving the Olympic gold medallist the perfect boost ahead of his Southern Ocean “baptism of fire”.
"There is no doubt this is going to be my offshore baptism of fire" - Martin Kirketerp
The 29-year-old Dane received notice of his promotion from shore crewmember to sailor less than an hour before the boat left the dock for the Auckland In-Port Race as a result of Ryan Houston developing a kidney infection.
Despite the short notice Kirketerp excelled under the pressure of the demanding role and the close quarters racing, helping to propel Sanya to fourth place -- their best result since the first in-port race in Alicante, Spain, in October.
Skipper Mike Sanderson said he felt blessed to have the back-up of a sailor with the qualifications of Kirketerp, who could execute such a performance with so little notice.
"Poor Ryan’s been struggling with an illness and I really feel for him," Sanderson said. "He’s a pivotal part of our team and he’s devastated to be missing the next leg.
"Basically, Ryan’s not match fit and we had to make a very hard call. We’ve had Martin Kirketerp sitting in the wings and he’s an Olympic gold medallist, under 30, has all his qualifications and has done a lot of sailing with us so we’re very spoilt to have the luxury of a back-up like him.
“Martin did a great job, they were a couple of key changes which we hadn’t even talked about.’’
Kirketerp said it was the understatement of the century to say he was excited by the opportunity to race with Team Sanya, having planned to work his way up slowly from the bottom, scrubbing and polishing the boat as a shore crewman.
Now he's downed his tools in preparation for what is touted as the longest and toughest leg of the nine month race -- a 6,705 nautical mile race through the Southern Ocean dodging icebergs and storms.
“I only got the call 30 minutes before getting on the boat for the in-port race so I’m still floating on a pink sky,’’ he said. “I’m so excited. I feel ready to go, but ask me the same question in a month and I’ll know if I was ready or not.”
There is no doubt Kirketerp has the skills of a champion, having won Olympic gold in the 49er class at the 2008 Olympics along side Jonas Warrer - - beating Team Telefónica’s duo Iker Martínez and Xabi Fernández in the process.
His determination is not to be questioned either, having reached the pinnacle in his sport despite battling cancer that caused him to lose an eye when he was one and a half years old.
“It’s going to be so interesting, these next three weeks of my life,’’ he said. “It’s going to be a very interesting baptism of fire.
“I did a Sydney to Hobart a couple of years ago, but that’s not really the proper Southern Ocean. There is no doubt this is going to be my offshore baptism of fire.’’
- 22 Mar 2012Latest setback leaves Sanya's Sanderson dumbstruck
- 21 Mar 2012Confident Kirketerp comes through hair-raising start
- 17 Mar 2012Danish gold medallist steps up on Sanya
- 17 Mar 2012Sanderson stoked with Sanya scalps
- 16 Mar 2012Spectator frenzy expected for Auckland In-Port Race
- 7 Mar 2012Sanderson hoping for home ground advantage