Taking their foot off the accelerator through the impending storm could be the key to Sanya’s comeback in Leg 8 – with skipper Mike Sanderson warning that boats will break if they’re pushed too hard.
“Our better chance is to sail conservatively, and there’s a reasonable chance one of the fleet will come unstuck with regards to breakages, and that will be our chance to pounce” - Mike Sanderson
Check out today's live video call to Mike Sanderson by clicking HERE.
The fleet are facing one more battering with less than 1,000 miles left to sail in the penultimate stage of the Volvo Ocean Race thanks to a huge low pressure lying off the coast of France – and with winds forecast to reach more than 40 knots, Sanderson said caution could reward his team.
“I think there’s always a chance of a comeback,” he said. “One of our forecasts has 35 knots of wind in it, which is very raceable. Another had 45 knots in it, which suddenly becomes seamanship and survival for boat and guys.
“At some point [the other boats] are going to get to a point where they don’t go any faster. Our better chance is to sail conservatively, and there’s a reasonable chance one of the fleet will come unstuck with regards to breakages, and that will be our chance to pounce.”
Sanya were trailing leg leaders Telefónica by more than 40 miles on Wednesday as the fleet approached the storm, potentially the last big challenge of the 2011-12 race.
“At the end of the day this is why you do the Volvo -- for heavy airs running -- so it’s with an air of excitement and with nervousness that we go into this,” added Sanderson, who skippered ABN AMRO ONE to victory in 2005-06.
“To be honest, I think every skipper would be lying if they said they look forward to conditions like this. I’m pretty sure I’ve put my wet weather gear on for the last time, it won’t come off. It’s unbelievable to think we’re faced with a 1,000-mile sprint.
“It’s definitely anxious times -- if I could make a wish it would be to stay at 25 knots wind speed. No one needs 45 knots in one of these.”