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Helping Team Sanya get its second wind

A sudden turn of events in Leg 2 had one team seeking refuge in Madagascar – a a far cry from the excitement and glamour of the global sailing route’s official stops. Luckily, DHL was there to help – and then some.

When the rigging on Team Sanya’s ship suddenly broke during the second leg of the race, shore manager Nick Bice had to find his teammates a port and he had to find one fast. After all, Team Sanya had been leading the fleet by some 200 miles when the mishap occurred. And in a race where everything can change at the drop of a hat, (or for that matter, at the snap of a mast), time is of the essence.

“I did a Google Earth search down the coast of Madagascar and found this little port,” recalls Bice. “That then took me to the next town that was close by, which is Fort Dauphin. What [Wikipedia] said about the little town was that it was quite remote in Madagascar, pretty hard to get to from the capital of Madagascar, Antananarivo. It’s 670 kilometers away, but takes five days to drive there by car.”

A port in the storm

Seemingly stranded in the middle of nowhere with a broken ship and broken spirits, it’s no wonder that the Team Sanya sailors were overjoyed when they first saw a DHL van in Fort Dauphin.

“The first day was a real shock for the guys,” says Mamy Rakotondraibe, DHL Country Manager, Madagascar. “They were happy to see one of their partners, DHL, which is present in Fort Dauphin because of a mining project.”

As soon as they learned of Team Sanya’s troubles, Rakotondraibe and his colleagues went out of their way to help the crew, led by captain Mike Sanderson, make the very best of a less-than-ideal situation. As the team awaited the arrival of their spare parts, DHL colleagues took it upon themselves to show the sailors the true definition of customer service. They happily lent Sanderson a DHL vehicle so that he could get around easily and better coordinate the repair of the team’s beloved boat. And if he weren’t a DHL station manager at Fort Dauphin, INSERT NAME proved he could land a job in the tourism industry as he offered the visiting seafarers hotel recommendations, restaurant suggestions and much more.

A lasting impression

“Team Sanya was in Fort Dauphin for a total of 15 days, and I am very proud of all the efforts made by our colleagues to take care of the sailors,” says Mamy Rakotondraibe. “It was really above and beyond the call of duty, but it was worth it. The team had a good time with us and we had a good time with them.”

Before Team Sanya at last set sail from the island of Madagascar with a new rig in place, the entire crew had dinner together with the DHL colleagues who made their stay in Fort Dauphin a memorable one. And as it turns out, the sailors also made a lasting impression on the people they encountered in Madagascar.

“To us, the Volvo Ocean Race is the biggest thing in the world,” says Team Sanya shore manager Nick Bice. “To [the people in Fort Dauphin], we were just another boat, but then interest grew… We’ve got a whole new fan base there now.”