Team Sanya skipper Mike Sanderson has been left lost for words today after his Chinese team’s starboard rudder bearing snapped as they were leading the fleet on Leg 5 from New Zealand to Brazil.
“We’ve been in preservation mode for the past few hours. We had to save the boat" - Mike Sanderson
The breakage happened as Sanya was travelling at high speed and immediately sent the boat into a crash gybe with water pouring into the aft compartment.
After some swift action by the crew to seal off the stern section and get the boat back under control a fuller damage assessment revealed that the starboard rudderstock had sheared off inside the hull.
Still weighing up his team’s immediate options Sanderson said the most urgent priority had been to plug the hole torn in the aft of the boat when the rudderstock snapped.
“We’ve been in preservation mode for the past few hours,” he said. “We had to save the boat.
“The rudder snapped in between the boat and the deck, which is just the worst thing that can happen because then it just leverages itself off he boat and leaves a pretty messy trail.”
“The thing is we had all the sails stacked aft on deck, we had the aft ballast tank and the whole all the gear stacked downstairs in the back of the boat,” Sanderson said. “So as soon as we stopped of course water just started rushing in. It is the second time we’ve heard water coming into this boat at that sort of pace, so it’s pretty scary.
“The whole aft compartment was full of water, about three to four tonnes and it was pressing.
Sanderson said the crash gybe immediately following the incident had laid the boat almost flat and taken a considerable time to recover from.
“We went into a Chinese gybe, so suddenly we’re pinned on our side dragging the sails through the water with a lot of heel on,” he said. “We had the keel out the wrong side and the sail stack all on the wrong side. But you know, it’s just a process you work through and take your time.
The rudder snapped as Sanya were leading the fleet and sailing at speeds of around 25 knots. According to Sanderson this made the current situation all the harder to swallow particularly after putting on an impressive performance during the Auckland stopover.
“We were very pleased with our leg from a performance standpoint. We won the pro-am race, we got a fourth in the in-port race and we led the fleet out of Auckland,” he said.
“We were really pleased we were in a lead and in a really nice spot to extend our lead. We were sailing along pretty fast, between 20-30 knots of boat speed in nice conditions with winds gutting up to 30 knots, when these boats are at their fastest,” he said.
“We’re just gutted, it hasn’t even quite sunk in for sure.
“But first and foremost is ensuring everyone is safe and well. The guys have just finished fixing the hole, which has taken a couple of hours and we’ve fitted the emergency steering.
“But we’re not out of the woods yet, we’ve got a temporary repair on the back of the boat and we have plenty of work ahead of us yet.”
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- 23 Mar 2012Tauranga-bound Sanya pledge return in Miami at latest
- 22 Mar 2012Wounded Sanya head back towards New Zealand
- 22 Mar 2012Team Sanya working on repair plan after breaking rudder
- 17 Mar 2012Kirketerp expects Southern Ocean baptism of fire