December 15 - A rough experience for one yacht on the high seas gave Maersk Line the perfect opportunity to show how quickly it could respond to the most difficult of requests.
On the first day of the first leg of the 2011-2012 Volvo Ocean Race from Alicante to Cape Town, the Chinese entry,Team Sanya encountered waves 10.5 m high and winds reaching 43 knots. Their yacht, Sanya Lan (pictured below) had probably hit an object in the water, leaving a huge hole in the hull and she limped into the nearest port, the Spanish coastal resort of Motril.
Experienced skipper Mike Sanderson was forced to retire the team from the first leg. Bitterly disappointed, they had almost no time to get their boat down to Cape Town, have her repaired and get ready to start the second leg by December 11.
That's where Maersk Line stepped in. John Hawthorn , head of Global Break Bulk, explains: Maersk's ship, Stadt Schwerin , was in Algeciras and was scheduled to arrive in Cape Town on 28 November. "The boat had to be completely dismantled, packed on a cradle along with a flat rack for the keel, a 40-ft container for parts and a 32 m mast. Then we had to get it to Algeciras in less than three days. The team also needed to get road permits and customs cleared."
Specialist mobile cranes were deployed to lift the consignments onto Stadt Schwerin which sailed for Cape Town where expert boat builders, flown in especially from New Zealand, were standing by to make repairs. On arrival they only had one week to complete repairs which would normally take at least a month.
After working day and night on the repairs, miraculously the boat was ready. The team were delighted to be able to put Sanya Lan back in the water for sea trials on December 8.
The trials went well and the team are ready and raring to go. Having lost points for forfeiting the first leg, there is a lot of catching up to do.