Team Sanya damage Ian Roman

Maersk Line Proves Their Worth to Chinese Volvo Ocean Race Team

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December 13, 2011

A rough experience for one yacht on the high seas gave one Maersk Line team the perfect opportunity to show how quickly it could respond to the most difficult of requests.

Giving it our best shot
maersk lineThe team proved that the new Maersk Line really does hear the customer’s needs and will go beyond the call of duty to help meet them.

The 5th of November saw the start of the first leg of the 2011-2012 Volvo Ocean Race. Referred to as “The Everest of Sailing”, the Volvo Ocean Race is to sailing what Formula One is to racing; quite simply it is the toughest yacht race in the world. Stage one runs from Alicante to Cape Town. It was only the first day and Team Sanya, the Chinese entry and the newest team in the competition, was already in trouble.

With waves ten and a half metres high and winds reaching 43 knots, their vessel Sanya Lan had probably hit an object in the water. The damage left their yacht with 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 11 December. On 7 November, Maersk Line received a call. Could they possibly do anything to help?

John Hawthorn, Head of Global Break Bulk, immediately responded from London.

“We’ll certainly give it our best shot,” he tells them.

Later, he tells, “I sensed their desperation, I knew it was something they had been training hard for and I knew we could help. It is part of Maersk Line’s mission to be the undisputed leader in the cargo liner business. This was our opportunity to prove we could deliver when no one else could.”

team sanya volvo ocean race maersk
Team Sanya is loaded on to a Maersk Line cargo ship for transport to Cape Town, image (c) Ian Roman, Volvo Ocean Race


When a plan comes together
The next morning a plan was hatched. A Maersk Line vessel, the MV Stadt Schwerin, was in Algeciras that weekend and scheduled to arrive in Cape Town on 28 November.

“It may sound simple. But it wasn’t. The boat had to be completely dismantled, packed on a cradle along with a flat rack for the keel, a 40-foot container for parts and a 32-metre 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,” Hawthorn explains.

Work began to get this happening. Hawthorn flew into Algeciras and oversaw the project himself.

As all the necessary kit arrived on Friday and Saturday, the team prepared to go in with specialist mobile cranes being deployed to do the lifts. During the early hours of Tuesday, Sanya Lan was loaded, lashed down and ready to go. A monumental effort from not just the Maersk Line team but also port team at APMT Algeciras. The Stadt Schwerin sailed shortly after. It was almost as if Maersk Line was, at least for this leg, taking part in the Volvo Ocean Race!

Now Maersk Line just had to get to Cape Town as quickly as possible. Team Sanya had expert boat builders standing by, flown in especially from New Zealand, to make repairs. On arrival they would have to do in a week what would normally take at least a month!

Two weeks later on the 30th November, after a very stormy sea passage, Stadt Schwerin and her precious cargo arrive in Cape Town. The team were delighted to be reunited with their boat, but knew that they had a monumental task to get her repaired, sea trialled and back in the water in time for the next leg of the race which would commence on the 10th of December.

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 the 8th of December. The number 8 is considered very lucky in China. .

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.

Team Sanya Camper Puma Telefonica Volvo Ocean Race sailing upwind
Image (c) Volvo Ocean Race

An ongoing partnership
In recognition of Maersk Line’s part in keeping Team Sanya in the race we have agreed a Partnership deal where the Maersk Line logo will now appear on the boat for the remainder of the 8 legs still to go!

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