Mike Sanderson: Man of Action
Published on July 14th, 2016
Champion sailor Mike Sanderson of Doyle Sails New Zealand talks professional sailing and what he sees in the exciting future of sailmaking, with Anthony Twibill of Sails magazine…
As a lifelong sailor who’s become an America’s Cup champion for New Zealand, won the Volvo Ocean Race twice aboard ABN Amro, and collected more than your fair share of championship trophies over the years, what are your key drivers for success in sailing?
My whole career aspiration from the time I went to secondary school was to be a winning skipper of the Volvo Ocean Race. I left one of New Zealand’s most exclusive secondary schools after being selected for the final six for head boy a year early as I was given a job at North Sails NZ as an apprentice and I knew that was my “road” to professional sailing. From there all my sailing was done with that one clear goal of winning the Volvo Ocean Race as a skipper.
What are your top three most precious memories, podium spots if you like, from sailing the world?
Well it’s interesting. For sure winning the 1991 Elliott 5.9 National champs got me the attention I required to get an interview for New Zealand Endeavour, which was my first Whitbread / Volvo race with Grant Dalton in 1993, then winning that first round-the-world race would for sure rate up there. Also high on my list was when I came third in the Transat Ostar single-handed race in 2004 on Pindar. It was my first single-handed Open 60 race and it was a Vendee Globe year so a world class fleet of all the Vendee teams. Then of course winning the Volvo Ocean Race as the skipper of ABN Amro was truly my childhood dream.
How has the sport of competitive sailing evolved in New Zealand (and Australia) and how do you find that compares to global trends in sailing?
Australia and New Zealand are very different when it comes to professional sailing. New Zealand probably has the most professional sailors on the international circuits of any country but there is basically next to no professional sailing in New Zealand. Australia has many international professional sailors but there are only a small amount of “paid gigs” actually in Australia. Of course there are the Australian-based programs such as Wild Oats, Loyal, Ragamuffin but most of those programs are based around the Sydney Hobart race, which of course draws the world’s best offshore teams to compete in, so the Aussie teams have to match those teams to keep doing well in their biggest sailing event.
Complete interview… click here.