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'She can still win a leg'- Sanderson backs O'Rourke boat

21st September 2008

When Mike Sanderson last sailed ABN Amro 1 he demolished the opposition. Now the winner of the last VOR has given his thumbs up to Ger O'Rourke's participation in next month's race in his old boat. Here he tells the Limerick skipper to take it easy, the boat now known as Delta Lloyd, will look after him, if he looks after her.

“It’s pretty cool that Delta Lloyd got into it”, said Mike Sanderson (NZL) after the practice race of the iShares Cup in Amsterdam. The skipper of ABN AMRO ONE and his crew were by far the fastest in the Volvo Ocean Race 2005-06. Their winning boat is going to sail the oceans again. Although Sanderson has changed his course to the America’s Cup, the Team Director of TEAMORIGIN has still ‘strong feelings for their baby’. He talks about her with the same passion as before.

“It is going to be a tough battle for Team Delta Lloyd. It is obviously all very late. As long as they stick to realistic goals, they will do well.” Sanderson thinks they should start off by taking it easy: “Not trying to push too hard. Just make sure that they are learning the boat quickly. We know she is good enough, so they can take it easy until they are comfortable with her. The last thing you want to do is break down and get further behind early on. The yacht is very reliable. Hopefully they maintain things and don’t change too much.”

Do you think the boat is still competitive?

“The only boats we know they are faster, are the Ericsson ones. We don’t know where everybody else is. We have to assume that the new generation yachts are all faster. However, all teams have been struggling to get to the maximum keel weight under the new rule. We know that the Delta Lloyd has the maximum keel weight, because that was what the new rule was based on. So yes, she could end up being pretty quick. Since they are coming along that late, they are also better off in that boat than rushing a new one. If they go the right way, they can win a leg for sure. If they get it right where others don’t, that will definitely outweigh that two or three percentage speed difference. From what I have heard, she is still quicker at times. She has a maximum keel weight and is beautifully built down the road. She doesn’t deteriorate really.”

How do you feel about the former ABN AMRO ONE entering the race again?

“We had really strong feelings for her. She was pretty much our baby. We created her. Watched her going up and down the tank. It was a finely tuned machine by the time she hit the start line. The fact is that it is going to be a whole different team and environment and the boat will be sailed by different people. We will never really know how fast she is compared to the new yachts. The new crew might be sailing her faster. We still won’t know that. It is a great compliment for the boat that people think she is competitive enough for going around again. It has been a long time since someone has taken an older generation yacht. You have to go back to the 1993-94 Whitbread Race.”

What happened to the boat after your 05/06 race?

“Ericsson kept it pretty much the same as it was. They maintained her to a high level. That will be great for the Delta Lloyd guys. Ericsson did some modifications to the mast. I was in touch with Ger O’Rourke and his team after they bought it. I certainly gave them a bit of an indication of what I would have invested some money on, in case we would have had our time again. By the end of our race, we had a big list of things that we would have wanted to change. Many of my guys ended up going to other syndicates. Now you see lots of what we talked about as a team spread out amongst the fleet, which is good.”

The fact that his winning boat will compete in this year’s Volvo Ocean Race, makes Sanderson extra eager to follow the race: “I am definitely going to watch it with more interest. I just hope they look after her and she looks after them. It is quite an aggressive boat.” Team

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