sabato 20 gennaio 2018
Volvo Ocean Race - Dongfeng finishes second in Hong Kong amid concern over collision involving Vestas
There were mixed emotions on board Dongfeng, the Chinese entry in the 2017-18 Volvo Ocean Race, as she finished Leg 4 in second place today but with the crew’s thoughts focused on the collision between Vestas 11th Hour Racing and a local fishing boat.
Dongfeng Race Team skipper Charles Caudrelier was in sober mood as the red and white Volvo Ocean 65, sponsored by Dongfeng Motor Corporation of Wuhan in China, docked at the Volvo Ocean Race Village in Hong Kong.
The incident with Vestas happened as the American boat was about 30 miles from the finish in second place and being chased by Dongfeng. Caudrelier offered the Vestas skipper, Mark Towill, assistance following the collision but was informed that this was not required.
“Our first thought is that this is terrible news. We are of course very sad to hear it and very concerned about the fishing boat and await further news on that,” said Caudrelier, just minutes after finishing in the dark surrounded by the lights of the skyscrapers of downtown Hong Kong. “It is always very dangerous when sailing in these fishing areas when there are so many boats and some have no lights. Obviously this is very bad news for these fisherman, the Volvo Ocean Race and for Vestas.”
As far as the team’s performance in what turned out to be a very tough 5,600-mile stage from Melbourne, Caudrelier was satisfied with a result which places Dongfeng Race Team in second place overall and having narrowed the points gap to race leader MAPFRE. Following Team Sun Hung Kai Scallywag’s unexpected win into Hong Kong, Dongfeng’s performance is also another great result for sailing in Asia.
“It was a very good result for Asian sailing – I am very happy about it,” said Caudrelier. “Of course we wanted to arrive first here. When we arrived first in Sanya in China in the last Volvo Ocean Race it was amazing for our sponsor Dongfeng. But this is a good finish for the general classification overall.
“We are coming back on MAPFRE – taking points off them – so it is a very good leg because, as you have seen, this leg was quite complicated and, even if we sailed well, the Doldrums were a real nightmare. It’s a place with no wind and you don’t know what is going to happen. Scallywag (dodged) one or two clouds and took the lead but you are always afraid that you are going to get caught out by a cloud – it was a very dangerous leg for the overall positions.”
Caudrelier praised stand-in navigator and former Volvo Ocean Race winner Franck Cammas who he said had done a superb job and brought plenty of new ideas and enthusiasm to the task. He also confirmed that Pascal Bidegorry, who missed the leg because of a rib injury, will be back as navigator for the next stage to Auckland.
“Franck is a very good sailor and it was very positive having him on board,” said Caudrelier. “He arrived, he didn’t know the boat, he had a lot of new ideas and it was a very rich experience for us and he did a good job with the navigation. It was good to have fresh people – we also replaced Marie Riou with Justine Mettraux for this leg – Justine did an amazing job and was full of energy and motivation. We can feel that people who have done all the legs are really tired, so it is good to have fresh people and what is good is that now Pascal is coming back and he is fresh,”Caudrelier added.
Carolijn Brouwer of the Netherlands is one of the sailors who has completed every leg of the race so far. Like everyone else on Dongfeng she was concerned about the incident involving Vestas. “To be second in this way is a very unfortunate situation,”she said. “At the same time this was a leg with many stories. It was unbelievable. We have Scallywag finishing first coming into Hong Kong and being the Hong Kong entry – that’s something amazing.
“We had a really good battle in the Doldrums with Team AkzoNobel and it was good to see them back in the race after having so much misfortune in the last couple of legs. And then the incident with Vestas and seeing MAPFRE off the podium for the first time in this race – so they are showing their vulnerable side a little as well. Dongfeng has managed to score another podium finish, so it’s showing that this is a very long race and there is still a lot to fight for,” she added.
British-Australian bowman Jack Bouttell remembered the heat, day-after-day as the fleet made its way across the Equator towards China. “It was unbelievably hot from the second day up until yesterday,” he said. “Besides that it was a really frustrating leg. We sailed really well in the first week up until everyone parked-up and then it was a bit of a lottery. Scallywag had a blinder and got through the Doldrums pretty well which set them up to lead for the rest of the leg.”
Bouttell was delighted to be back on the podium once again as Dongfeng added her third consecutive second-placed finish to a third place in leg one. “We are yet to score that illusive leg win but I think consistency is key,” he said. “MAPFRE will be fourth or fifth on this leg, so they will still be ahead overall, but the gap is less now. It is leg four but there are a lot of legs left and so a long, long way to go.”