lunedì 21 maggio 2018
VOLVO OCEAN RACE - Dongfeng Race Team - "It is going to be a very interesting leg to watch from the shore," Charles Caudrelier
Dongfeng Race Team, the Chinese sponsored crew in the 2017-18 Volvo Ocean Race, set sail from Newport Rhode Island today bound for Cardiff in Wales for a key double points transatlantic. After a spectacular send-off from Newport, the capital of American yacht racing where thousands of spectators turned out on shore and on boats, Dongfeng completed the inshore section in third place behind MAPFRE in second and early leader, Team Brunel.
Ahead of Caudrelier and his multi-national male and female team sponsored by the Chinese car and truck manufacturer Dongfeng Motor Corporation, lies a testing eight-day sprint to the Welsh capital that features the Gulf Stream, the Grand Banks and a mixture of gale force conditions and light winds.
As if to remind them what lies ahead, the crews were quickly enveloped in fog as they headed out to sea between commercial shipping exclusion zones south of the Nantucket Shoals. The key element early in the stage is whether or not the leading boats can hang onto the first depression heading east and how long they can do that before falling into light airs behind it.
“We have to push 100% and it will be very interesting to watch from the shore for sure because we are going to go fast and there could be a big split in the fleet,” said Dongfeng skipper Charles Caudrelier of France.
The skipper predicts there could be some early separations that could have a bearing on how this critical, double-points leg plays out. “It is very tricky,” he explained. “We have some choices to do and some very early choices where you could see a big split in the fleet. I think it will be a key decision of the leg and after that we will have strong wind.”
Marcel van Triest, the shore-based Dongfeng Race Team meteorologist, says staying ahead of the front will be crucial. “If they stay ahead of it, then it will keep them going in an east to southeasterly direction towards the Gulf Stream and towards warm water. However, if the front overtakes them then the wind shift will be so big that they will have to gybe and go north towards Newfoundland or Nova Scotia and that is a completely different world – foggy, light and cold,” he said.
The sailors in Dongfeng Race Team have made no secret of their ambition to nail this leg, especially after the disappointment of finishing fourth at Newport after having led that stage up to 15 miles from the finish. They would also dearly love to score their first leg win of the race on its final transoceanic passage.
“We all left our disappointment on the boat after the arrival into Newport and we are now more motivated than ever to give it our best shot for the leg to Cardiff,” said bowman Jack Bouttell who is looking forward to greeting friends in Britain, his adoptive home.
“It feels like we are really getting close to the end of the race now,” he added. “Time-wise there is not long to go but points-wise it is the equivalent of sailing from Alicante to Melbourne. So it is a very important time in the race and this leg is the last chance to mix it up and get back into the top spot.”
Stu Bannatyne, the Kiwi veteran of seven previous Volvo Ocean Race and Whitbread round-the-world race campaigns, is relishing another thrash across the pond to Europe. “In the Volvo Ocean Race, this is the best sailing in the world that you can ever do. This leg takes us across the North Atlantic where we can get some of the best sailing around, so we are really looking forward to it,” he said.
Marie Riou, meanwhile, is tackling her first transatlantic as part of a crew with many Transats – both fully crewed and solo – to its name. “The first 24 hours will be very tough in strong winds but the leg is only 8-9 days long so, after the recent long stages, it will be more pleasurable and also it is our return to Europe,” she said. “We will see what our opponents do, but the whole team wants to get to Cardiff first,” she added.
This is Dongfeng Race Team’s second successive Volvo Ocean Race campaign. In the last race in 2014-15 the team finished third overall. In addition to trying to win this race, the team is also committed to helping to develop the sport of offshore ocean racing in China.