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Team Sanya – Keeping it real

eam Sanya at the start of the Rolex Fastnet Race. Photo: Rick TomlinsonSkipper Mike Sanderson reflects on Team Sanya's performance in the Rolex Fastnet Race, the team representing China were racing against two of the favourites for the forthcoming round the world race. Groupama 4 and Abu Dhabi are brand new versions of the powerful canting-keel flyers but Team Sanya is a 2007 design, which has only been back in the water for about a week.

Mike Sanderson won the 2005-06 Volvo Ocean Race as skipper and is returning to offshore racing after a five-year absence. Team Sanya were the third Volvo 70 to finish the Rolex Fastnet Race but their elapsed time of 43 hrs 38 min 29 sec was faster than ICAP Leopard's previous record set in 2007.

"At the end of the day I love it. I think the only reason not to come back is if your ego won't let you, enthused Mike Sanderson. "The opportunity arose for me to lead Team Sanya in the Volvo Ocean Race and I just love these boats.

We have a great bunch of guys and at the end of the day, we want a challenge and this is definitely one, especially as we need to do a better job than anyone else. We have to play with the cards we have been dealt and we have little time, it is going to be challenging and that is what makes it fun.

Possibly the sail choices are going to be bigger than the boat pedigree or design differences. So far we have had one wind tunnel experiment with our new sails and there have been some pretty radical differences. The other teams are only going for an overall race win and they need to be conservative with their sail inventory. Team Sanya are a bit different, sure we go out to win every race but our first goal is to try to win legs, maybe we can pitch the boat in a slightly different way and suit the sails to our strengths or weaknesses. So may be we will have our 'day in the sun' every now and again.

In the Rolex Fastnet Race, Team Sanya has been soundly beaten and we are very competitive people, we are here to win races, so we have been humbled but we did as well as we hoped and we have to be realistic, otherwise we will be just beaten up about it. This result was better than we feared and the race has gone as well as we hoped for, even in our wildest dreams. However, we need to keep it real, the competition was going over half a knot quicker at times that is going to stack up over a long leg. The objective for Team Sanya is to try to get the boat on the podium a few times and if the conditions suit us on a particular leg of the Volvo Ocean Race, who knows?

The Rolex Fastnet Race is one of the most iconic races in the world. It is such a grueling racetrack as it has proved yet again. It always seems to have drama. I did not know about Rambler 100 until we got on the dock and we are all relieved to hear of their rescue. The Rolex Fastnet Race is one of the greatest races in our sport and 600 miles is such a grueling length, especially on the fast boats as it is always a sprint but it is cool and I am loving it."

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