martedì 2 gennaio 2018

Volvo Ocean Race - "China here we come!" as Dongfeng Race Team heads for home

Dongfeng Race Team is on its way home to China after the Volvo Ocean Race fleet set sail today from Melbourne on Leg 4, which takes them 6,000 nautical miles north to Hong Kong and Guangzhou.   After a short stopover in Melbourne, the seven-strong fleet set off in front of a big spectator fleet on Port Phillip Bay with Dongfeng, the red and white Volvo Ocean 65 exclusively sponsored by Dongfeng Motor Corporation, looking good for an early lead.

However a port-and-starboard incident with Team Akzo-Nobel forced skipper Charles Caudrelier to put the boat into a penalty turn – dropping Dongfeng down the order in the early stages. But the team quickly fought back as the crews went to windward in building breeze.

By the time the fleet exited the harbour Heads into Bass Strait – at Point Lonsdale lighthouse – with the south-southwest wind now touching 30 knots, Dongfeng was up to fourth place just a mile behind the early leader, Vestas 11th Hour Racing skippered by Mark Towill.

Dongfeng starts Leg 4 in second place overall, six points behind race leader MAPFRE skippered by Xabi Fernandez of Spain. Although Caudrelier and Franck Cammas, his stand-in navigator for this leg, will be looking for a first stage win, they also have to keep an eye on Vestas which is equal on points with Dongfeng and lies third only by virtue of having been beaten by Dongfeng in Leg 3.

 Leg 4 is a complex tropical stage that, in its early phases, takes the fleet up the east coast of Australia and then across the Coral Sea to the Solomon Islands before the crews start to head northwest through Micronesia towards Hong Kong, where the first boat is expected on or around January 20.
Speaking just before the re-start, Caudrelier emphasised that with the Doldrums to negotiate once again, this was not going to be a straightforward challenge. “We are going to do the two warmest legs now, one going to Hong Kong and the other to Auckland,” he said. “It is quite an interesting leg going along Australia and crossing the Doldrums. Crossing the Doldrums is very special this time because it is a big area and one of the keys of the race."

“People think we are going to sail in easier conditions but sometimes it is more difficult because the temperature inside the boat is just too high and it makes it difficult to sleep, while outside the sun kills your energy. We have to manage this leg well because it will be a tough one for sure,” he added.

 Cammas, a former Volvo Ocean Race-winning skipper with Groupama 4 in 2011-2012, spoke about his excitement about joining Dongfeng Race Team for this leg in place of injured navigator Pascal Bidegorry. On Groupama 4, Caudrelier sailed as crew for Cammas; this time it is the other way round.
“I was with Charles on the last Volvo campaign with Groupama – he was on my team and was a very good guy – he was very positive, very loyal and very smart also with his handling of the boat,” said Cammas.
“I will try to deliver the same for him this time – and this is interesting. I am very confident with him and he is very confident with me also, so I think we can communicate very well together and this is very important for this kind of race.”
Returning to the team after taking Leg 3 off for rest, is the French Vendee Globe star Jeremie Beyou who says racing with the crew is easier than watching the race on the official Tracker.

“It was a bit difficult to leave the crew because you have the feeling you are leaving the team a little bit, and it is difficult to watch the ranking on the web, with the team moving up and down, but it was something that was planned and it is the only leg that I will miss,” said Beyou who sails as watch captain alongside Kiwi Volvo Ocean Race veteran Daryl Wislang who is also back on board after injury. “So now I am back,” added Beyou, “And happy to be here and fresh.”

 There are two female sailors on this leg. Justine Mettraux of Switzerland is making her debut for the team as she stands in for French sailor Marie Riou who is taking a planned rest. Alongside her is Carolijn Brouwer of the Netherlands who has sailed every leg so far and she is well aware that the stage to Hong Kong will be a tough test.
“I think Leg 4 is going to be a rather hard leg in its own way,” she summarised. “Every leg in the Volvo Ocean Race is very difficult but this one will be hot – the other extreme from the cold we just experienced on Leg 3 – and it might well be the hottest leg of the race."
“The bit from here up the east coast of Australia is fairly straightforward and a passage that a lot of us have done before. But then we get into the Pacific islands and we need to leave the Solomon Islands to port and head northwards towards the Philippines in an area where we are going to bump into the Doldrums again.

“I don’t think the Doldrums this time are going to be as easy as they were when we were coming down from Lisbon to Cape Town. So there will be a lot of challenges in there for sure,” she added.The final word goes to British/Australian Dongfeng Race Team bowman Jack Bouttell who was born in Australia and has just enjoyed a stopover in Melbourne when he was able to see many of his extended family for the first time in several years.
“We had a week here in Melbourne but it went very quickly, between trying to get as much sleep as possible and repairing the boat, but it has been nice,” he said. “I had a lot of my family here who I haven’t seen for a long time and it was cool to hang out in Australia again. But it’s good to be going again - next stop Hong Kong…”

 Dongfeng Race Team crew for Leg 4:
Charles Caudrelier (FRA) – skipper
Franck Cammas (FRA) – navigator
Daryl Wislang (NZL) – watch captain
Jeremie Beyou (FRA) – watch captain
Carolijn Brouwer (NL) – trimmer
Justine Mettraux (SUI) – trimmer
Kevin Escoffier (FRA) – bowman
Chen Jinhao ‘Horace’ (CHN) – bowman
Jack Bouttell (AUS/GBR) - bowman

Volvo Ocean Race Current Standings: 
1. MAPFRE (ESP), Xabi Fernandez, 29 points
2. Dongfeng Race Team (CHN), Charles Caudrelier, 23 points
3. Vestas 11th Hour Racing (USA-DAN), Charlie Enright, 23 points
4. Team Brunel (NED), Bouwe Bekking, 14 points
5. Sun Hung Kai/Scallywag (HK), David Witt, 11 points
6. team AkzoNobel (NED), Simeon Tienpont, 9 points
7. Turn the Tide on Plastic (UN), Dee Caffari, 6 points

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