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Tears in the Eye of the Tiger

Jared Henderson from Team Sanya in Fort Dolphinia, Madagascar
JJared Henderson from Team Sanya in Fort Dolphinia, Madagascar © Andrés Soriano/Team Sanya/Volvo Ocean Race)

He can walk the walk, and talk the talk like any hardened sailor, yet enduring leg ending damage for the second consecutive time was enough to make a grown man cry admitted Sanya’s Teng Jiang He, nicknamed Tiger.

Speaking from Madagascar, Tiger said he felt a mix of emotions about the rigging failure that forced his team to suspend racing while they were leading, and detour to the island on Monday.

Tiger, a sailing novice tasked mostly with the physically challenging task of grinding, said he had put his blood, sweat and now tears into getting the first sole Chinese entry to the front of the fleet.

The charismatic 37-year-old was almost lost for words when he was asked to describe what was going through his mind.

“It’s more than being shocked, especially when you were leading the fleet by more than 200 nautical miles,’’ he said. 

“In the previous night we worked very hard in the strong winds up to 40 knots. I worked non-stop for 13 hours.

“So when all work had to stop abruptly, some of us, all tough guys, can’t even hold off the tears.”

Tiger said he had however counted his blessings because his team were close to refuge and did not lose their mast like PUMA and Abu Dhabi did when they suffered rigging damage during Leg 1.

“If the incident had happened in the middle of the Indian Ocean, it would have been a very terrifying scenario,’’ he said.

Looking ahead Tiger said he and his teammates were now focused on ensuring both Sanya and her crew are at their peak for the journey to their “home” port.

He insisted the team were still “motivated and confident” and would continue to give the race their all.

“The two incidents in the first two legs will not change our way to approach the following legs,’’ he said.

“If other teams exert 100 per cent of their efforts, we’ll make it 120 per cent. For the third leg to our home port Sanya, the team will absolutely sail with all our might.”


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