Published by Coastal Classic | 18/10/23
This Shaw-35 previously based in Noumea has a second wind thanks to Mike Sanderson and his kids.
Mike Sanderson has been busy since winning the 2005-06 Volvo Ocean Race as Skipper of ABN Amro I and being named ISAF World Sailor of the Year.
He’s now Chief Executive of Doyle Sails International – and the father to three sailing children: Millie (16), Merrick (14) and Tom (10). He’s given them a great start in the Cherub two-handed skiff class and his latest project is designed to keep them interested in sailing and give the eldest two a step up into the world of performance keelboating and coastal racing.
The boat is something special: originally launched as Rehab it has more recently been known as Keel Bill: a 35-foot keelboat designed by New Zealand yacht designer Rob Shaw.
Shaw’s boats are distinctive: they are high-performance, push the envelope, and are usually remarkably small for their performance.
While Rehab was originally built to have some cruising comfort, its second owners turned her into a racing boat, adding a carbon rig, new keel, canard and rudder before taking her to Noumea where she raced prolifically offshore including two entries in the 600nm Groupama Race.
Mike joined forces with fellow Auckland sailors Scott Wilson, Rick Hackett and Doyle Sails CFO Graham Clark to purchase the boat when it went on the market.
He has put in the time and the thinking – and a new sail wardrobe – and got his children involved in the process, just as he did with the Cherub (dinghy) projects when they were younger. At the same time, Rick and the team at KZ Marine did a full refit on the rig.
For the race, the family are joined by two of the owners: Scott and Graham, Joweal Klaase from Doyle, Morgan Lay – who sails 29ers with the kids – and Mike’s ABN teammate Mark Christenson. It’s the first time they have sailed together since the last leg of the 2005-06 Volvo Ocean Race.
“It will be very cool to get back on a boat with Mark, and nice for the kids to spend some time with him,” says Mike.
Both Millie and Merrick have been sailing 29ers so the idea of speed and fine-tuning is not new to them – although the teamwork and challenge of a performance keelboat will be, they have no one better than their great yachtsman father to teach them and keep them safe and having fun all the way to Russell.
“Fingers crossed we’ll have a good race. The emphasis is very much on them, they will be driving and trimming. It will be full-on.”
Photo credit: Harri Wren for Doyle Sails and supplied