MAPFRE maintained their near-faultless performance in Volvo Ocean Race qualifying – and gave themselves the best possible chance of completing overall victory in the Leg Zero series – as they led the fleet over the finish line on a short opening stage of the final race out of Saint-Malo.
Extended periods of extremely light weather meant that the Saint-Malo to Lisbon leg had to be split into two parts. As expected, the Volvo Ocean 65s stayed tightly bunched on the first of those, a drag race towards Le Grand Lejon.
Vestas 11th Hour Racing were neck-and-neck with MAPFRE for the lead, with the Spanish side just pipping them to the line. Dongfeng Race Team grabbed third ahead of Turn the Tide on Plastic and team AkzoNobel.
Preliminary unofficial results gave Team Sun Hung Kai/Scallywag and Team Brunel the same time, with less than a mile between the first and last teams in the seven-boat fleet.
Now that the teams have completed their ‘Sunday drive’ – a 25nm sprint in just 10 knots – they can prepare for the restart which will begin from Chaussé de Sein at 0900 UTC on Monday. It will be a staggered start based on the finishing deltas from Sunday.
The fleet will start with light south easterlies that will quickly die and then come back from the west. This will be a critical transition to manage as the whole race course will favour the leaders and punish the stragglers.
The fleet will negotiate the passage of a cold front early Tuesday morning and the new wind will set them up for a downwind drag race towards Cape Finisterre, the northwestern tip of Spain.
It will be a race for their competitive lives – with light winds chasing them as a ridge of high pressure again pushes into the normally tempestuous Bay of Biscay.
"Leg Zero has been really good for us," said MAPFRE skipper Xabi Fernández, whose team have won two out of the three races completed so far.
"Saint-Malo to Lisbon is the last stop so it's not quite over yet but I'm so happy with the team, the boat... Everything seems to be working out." After negotiating the narrow channel between Cape Finisterre and the out-of-bounds shipping channel, they'll have a pretty simple run down the Portuguese coast. There's no major strategic play here, just pure speed before a handbrake turn into the Tagus river and the finish in downtown Lisbon.
“You only enter races to win – but the forecast is flukey so everything’s on the table,” said Vestas 11th Hour Racing skipper Charlie Enright. “Everyone’s expectation is to be competitive and to continue to refine the areas that we realise need work.” Overall standings after 3 of 4 completed races in Leg Zero:
While an overall winner will be declared, no points will be carried forward to the Volvo Ocean Race itself, which starts on 22 October from Alicante. • 8/17
The agreement is part of an ambitious plan to develop the next generation of offshore sailors, and create stronger links to the wider sport.
Under the terms of the agreement, Volvo Ocean Race and the event’s co-owners and sponsors Volvo Car Group and Volvo Group will become the official partners of World Sailing.
The partnership is a signal of the Volvo Ocean Race’s commitment to the sport and the future of offshore sailing. The race’s long-term plan will include opening future Ocean Academies to help young high performance sailors gain the necessary offshore experience to compete for places on participating teams. That would include racing in the same boats used in any future Olympic class of offshore sailing – something currently under discussion between World Sailing and the International Olympic Committee.
“World Sailing is delighted to partner with Volvo as they have been fully committed to developing sailing worldwide for many years,” commented World Sailing President Kim Andersen.
“They are an ambitious, forward thinking partner who match World Sailing’s vision and mission for the entire sport. They will be a crucial partner for World Sailing, working with us across all of our titled events, sustainability programmes and will have exclusivity in the automotive sector. “It is vital that World Sailing continue to aid growth across all aspects of the sport and our partnership with the Volvo Ocean Race allows us to be closely aligned with one of sports major events.”
Under a separate agreement announced on Wednesday, the Race has also revealed that marine and protective coatings brand, International, will back the official Volvo Ocean Race Youth Academy in 2017-18. Volvo Ocean Race CEO Mark Turner said the World Sailing agreement would help create stepping stones to the iconic round-the-world race – the toughest test of a team in professional sport.
“The Volvo Ocean Race is at the apex of the offshore and ocean racing pyramid, but unlike something like the eco-system in French sailing, we don’t yet have an established pathway to make getting there a natural progression,” said Turner.
“The partnership with World Sailing is important for us to show a long-term commitment to the sport and, equally, World Sailing’s support and understanding of what the Volvo Ocean Race does – to continue to inspire the world’s best athletes to go offshore.
“But we need to create some steps underneath it like the Volvo Ocean Race Academies and a closer link to the potential Olympic offshore class.
“If and when that is confirmed by the International Olympic Committee, the Volvo Ocean Race would be uniquely positioned to provide a path towards the Olympics, with qualifiers potentially taking place at our Host Cities during stopovers – and potentially even the Olympic offshore class being used as a point scorer inside the Volvo Ocean Race. That could expand still further the challenges the sailors must face to win this race.”
World Sailing has proposed an offshore showcase event to the International Olympic Committee for inclusion in the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. If ocean racing is included on the programme, the first Olympic-related event could come as soon as 2018.
The Volvo Ocean Race Youth Academy, powered by International, is committed to helping young people all over the world learn more about sailing, and drive excitement and interest around the race by encouraging more youngsters to experience sailing and teamwork.
For young sailors with more experience, a series of races in Optimist dinghies will take place at 10 of the 12 scheduled stopovers in 2017-18. Various workshops, training sessions and other activities will also be provided, such as educating and inspiring people to tackle the problem of plastic in our oceans.
“Connecting with young people and possibly helping to nurture the next generation of Volvo Ocean Race sailors is an exciting opportunity and we are delighted that the Youth Academy will be powered by International,” said Alberto Slikta, Managing Director of AkzoNobel Specialty Coatings. Volvo have a long running commitment to sailing and previously worked with the world governing body of the sport, acting as title sponsor of the Youth Sailing World Championships from 1999 to 2010. • 5/17
World Sailing is the world governing body for the sport of sailing, officially recognized by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the International Paralympic Committee (IPC). Founded in 1907, World Sailing's vision is for a world in which millions more people fall in love with sailing; inspired by the unique relationship between sport, technology and the forces of nature; we all work to protect the waters of the world. World Sailing is made up of 145 Member National Authorities, the national governing bodies for sailing around the world and 114 World Sailing Class Associations.
The Volvo Ocean Race will celebrate 45 years of history with a Legends Race on the final leg of the 2017-18 edition from Gothenburg to The Hague. Any yacht to have featured in the Whitbread Round the World Race or Volvo Ocean Race, dating back to 1973-74, will be welcome to join the 2018 Legends Race.
The race will be run over the same course, and around the same time, as the closing leg of the Volvo Ocean Race 2017-18, which starts from Gothenburg on 21 June.
The announcement was made at the yacht racing seminar Meetingspot in Gothenburg and follows a hugely successful Legends Regatta that was held before the start of the 2011-12 race in Alicante and exhibitions at the both the Volvo Ocean Race Museum in Alicante and at the finish in Gothenburg in the last edition in 2014-15.
Among those participating at the seminar was Tracy Edwards MBE, who skippered the all-female Maiden team to two leg victories in their class in the 1989-90 race and is planning to reunite her crew and the boat for the 2018 race.
“Maiden was found in a sad state a few years ago in the Seychelles and since then I have been working very hard to get her back, restore her and get her back in her former glory again,” said Edwards.
“She will shortly be shipped back to the UK for a renovation program and our aim is the gather the original all-female crew from 1989-90 and compete in the new Legends Race 2018.”
The plan for the Legends Race is to include a Maxi class, a Volvo Ocean 60 class an Open class. Both Sweden and Holland have a proud history in the Volvo Ocean Race and a large number of fans who have followed the event through the years.
“The Legends Race will add a lot of excitement to the Stopover in Gothenburg because there are many fans in Sweden who are devoted to the history of the Volvo Ocean Race,” said Camilla Nyman, CEO of Gothenburg & Co, organisers of the stopover in Gothenburg.
“We’ll be welcoming famous yachts and crews to the heart of Gothenburg and fans will get to see a lot of legendary yachts and familiar faces.”
Frank van der Peet, head of the team organising the finish of the race at The Hague, added: "Holland has a long and successful history with the Whitbread and Volvo Ocean Race so we are very enthusiastic about welcoming these magnificent and historic race boats to The Hague.” • 2/17
MAPFRE, backed by the Madrid-based global insurance company, are the third confirmed entry for sailing’s toughest team event, which starts from Alicante on Sunday, 22 October and will take the teams on a 45,000-nautical mile route around the world. Dongfeng Race Team and team AkzoNobel announced their campaigns last year.
In the last edition in 2014-15, MAPFRE won the leg into Auckland, New Zealand and grabbed three more podium finishes. Their return is testament to the success of the project both on the sporting and commercial side. MAPFRE president Antonio Huertas said: “It’s an honour for MAPFRE to be on the start line again in one of the most demanding competitions in world sport. We really value being involved in a sailing competition around the world that represents the same values that define us as a company.
“Our experience in the last edition, with a great team of professionals, committed and determined to do well in this race, was very positive. Additionally, the Volvo Ocean Race will have stopovers in some of our main markets, such as Spain, Brazil and the United States, and we will therefore increase brand awareness of MAPFRE at an international level.”
Spain’s Pedro Campos will again oversee the MAPFRE project, with announcements on the skipper and crew to come in the near future. Spanish boats have competed in eight of the previous 12 editions of the Volvo Ocean Race – formerly the Whitbread Round the World Race – but the country is still looking for a first win.
“It’s fantastic news to be able to confirm a Spanish team for the next edition, and of course great to see another sponsor return to the race after a successful campaign,” said Volvo Ocean Race CEO Mark Turner.
“With Alicante recently confirmed as the start for the next three editions, and Spain having played a significant role in the history of the race in general, it will be great to see Spanish fans lined up again on the dock in October to cheer on their team, MAPFRE.”
Spanish sailor Campos has an unbroken history with the race dating back to the movistar campaign in 2005-06. Pedro Campos, CEO of Team MAPFRE and of the last five Spanish projects in the Volvo Ocean Race, said: “We are very grateful and proud to have the full support of MAPFRE once again for the great adventure that is the Volvo Ocean Race, probably the longest, hardest, and most extreme event in the sports world.
Just taking part in it, it’s a big goal for every team. To be on start line from Alicante with a chance to try to win – that is our first big challenge and our job for the next months.”
From the start in Alicante on 22 October, the teams will race their one-design Volvo Ocean 65s on a route that calls in at Lisbon, Cape Town, Melbourne, Hong Kong, Guangzhou, Auckland, Itajaí, Newport (Rhode Island), Cardiff and Gothenburg before the finish in The Hague.
A recent rule change provides a major incentive for teams to include female sailors as part of the crew, while a series of further initiatives were announced last year to make the racing more open than ever. • 1/17
The Volvo Ocean Race will give sports fans an extra Christmas present in 2017 after adding Melbourne to the route for the forthcoming edition starting in October.
The change to the 2017-18 route means the Race will visit Australia for the eighth time – but for the first in more than a decade. With what will be a compressed stopover, Melbourne fits between Cape Town and Hong Kong, and completes a 45,000-nautical mile route that will see the teams cover three times as many miles in the Southern Ocean as in previous editions.
Cape Town to Melbourne will now make up Leg 3 of the race – a double-point scoring, 6,300-nautical mile leg. Melbourne will host a week-long stopover, but no In-Port Race, before the fleet leaves on Leg 4 to Hong Kong.
According to projections, the one-design Volvo Ocean 65 fleet will arrive around Christmas Day – meaning an extra reason to celebrate in the state capital of Victoria. Minister for Tourism and Major Events John Eren commented: “The Volvo Ocean Race is another chance for Victorians to see some of the world’s best sailing teams in action. Major events are fantastic for the entire visitor economy – they keep our restaurants and hotels full and our shopping precincts bustling.
He concluded: “The Victorian Government is proud to work with a range of dedicated partners to support this stand out sailing event.” Australia’s history with the Volvo Ocean Race goes all the way back to the first edition in 1973-74 and, in total, Australia has hosted the race seven times. The race first came to Melbourne in 2005-06 and now returns for a second time.
“We’re delighted to be visiting Melbourne again – a vibrant city of sport and culture with a strong maritime heritage,” said Volvo Ocean Race COO, Richard Mason. “Having been born in Australia myself, I couldn’t be more excited to see the race head Down Under, and I know that sailing fans across the nation will be full of excitement to see the boats and sailors for themselves.
” The full route now features a total of 10 legs taking in 12 landmark Host Cities on six continents. The teams will leave Alicante, Spain on 22 October and race on to Lisbon, Cape Town, Melbourne and Hong Kong before a non-scoring transition to Guangzhou in China.
After a stopover in Guangzhou that will include a race in the In-Port Series, the ocean legs will resume with a leg to Auckland before stopping in Itajaí, Brazil, Newport, Rhode Island, Cardiff and Gothenburg, before the big finish in the Dutch city of The Hague.
The two Southern Ocean legs – from Cape Town to Melbourne, and Auckland to Itajaí – plus the North Atlantic leg near the end of the race, Newport to Cardiff – will all score double points. The longest leg of the 45,000-nautical mile lap of the planet will now be the 7,600-nautical mile leg from Auckland to Itajaí.
The Volvo Ocean Race recently announced a series of major changes to the rules of the 43-year-old classic adventure, including a major incentive for teams to compete with mixed male-female crews. • 1/17
Alicante • 40th Anniversary of VOR • 2013
Volvo Ocean Race 40th birthday celebrations continue with switch to free entry at interactive museum in Alicante
The Volvo Ocean Race Museum will be free to enter with immediate effect, giving more people than ever a chance to experience the historic round-the-world sailing race first hand as it celebrates its 40th anniversary.
The move to offer free entry comes as part of the Volvo Ocean Race's 40th birthday celebrations, which began with the opening at the Alicante Museum of a stunning new photographic exhibition entitled '40 years, 40 faces'.
"We want everyone to be able to enjoy this spectacular interactive Museum and get to know a race that has been creating heroes and legends since 1973," said Volvo Ocean Race CEO Knut Frostad.
"We're currently enjoying our 40th birthday celebrations and we want Alicante locals and tourists alike to see the wonderful new exhibition and gain an understanding of what makes this race so special."
The Volvo Ocean Race Museum opened in Alicante in June 2012 and is based at the race's state-of-the-art headquarters, just a five-minute stroll from the Mediterranean city's central esplanade and Postiguet beach, in the thriving port area of one of Europe's most popular tourist destinations.
The high-tech museum gives a close-up view of the NASA-inspired Race Control room at the race's headquarters, while offering visitors the chance to get hands-on with the race via a series of interactive displays.
The '40 years, 40 faces' exhibition features pictures from all 11 previous editions, focusing on people rather than boats, on faces rather than waves, and paints an intimate view of a race that began life as the Whitbread back in 1973 and remains sport's ultimate test of teamwork and character.
The 12th edition of the Volvo Ocean Race starts in Alicante on October 4, 2014 and will run until June 2015 with a finish in Gothenburg, Sweden. Along the way, the teams will stop at Recife (Brazil), Abu Dhabi (United Arab Emirates), Sanya (China), Auckland (New Zealand), Itajaí (Brazil), Newport, Rhode Island (United States), Lisbon (Portugal) and Lorient (France). • 6/13
The Volvo Ocean Race will strengthen its historic connection with the Southern Ocean, and the tradition of racing around the world, while boosting its commercial offering to sponsors and Host Cities, by introducing radical changes to the racecourse, stopover formats and timing of future race activity.
The changes include a commitment to race activity in every calendar year and a proposed non-stop lap around Antarctica as a leg of the race as part of future routes that could look very different. But Race CEO Mark Turner stressed that racing around the world, and maximising Southern Ocean miles, would continue to be at the heart of every future edition of the 44-year-old fully crewed race.
The race has launched a Host City tender process for three editions after the upcoming 2017-18 race – with a commitment to there being race activity of some kind in each and every calendar year.
That marks a clear evolution from the current situation, which features a gap of over two years between races. And while the race is committed to two more starts from its home and key partner in Alicante, Spain, some future editions could start and/or finish outside Europe, Turner revealed at special event in Gothenburg.
New racecourse options to be selected over the coming decade include a non-stop leg around Antarctica as part of a round the world course – and Turner revealed that another leg could even be a full non-stop lap around the planet. The dates of the three races after the upcoming 2017-18 edition have not yet been decided, but the sequence could start as early as 2019.
Under instruction from the Volvo Ocean Race Board, the race is investigating the feasibility of a switch to a two-year cycle from the current three-yearly one, an evolution that could align all the major events of the sport – the Volvo Ocean Race, Vendée Globe, America's Cup and Olympic Games – in a non-conflicting calendar for the first time ever.
“The race will always go around the world and the Southern Ocean will always, always be at the core of the challenge we set for the world’s best professional sailors,” said Turner.
“Over the next decade, we’ll be bringing in a new approach to where we go, when we go and how we go there while staying true to our core DNA.
“We know that from both commercial and sporting perspectives it’s vital that we have more continuity and more action – and that there is a return on investment every budget year of a Volvo Ocean Race campaign. That’s why it’s essential to make changes.”
The 2017-18 edition, starting from Alicante on 22 October, will visit a total of 12 Host Cities in a race lasting more than eight months. Future editions may not always visit so many markets, thereby shortening their length. The race will, however, commit to visiting North America, South America, Australasia, Greater China, and at least five major European markets at the very minimum once every other edition, so that there is commercial certainty well ahead of final routes being contracted, making it easier for 2-cycle sponsor commitments to be made to teams.
“The last few decades years have seen an often uncomfortable compromise between commercial and sporting values, with more and more markets interested in hosting the event – and we think this evolution is a great way to boost both commercial and sporting aspects going forward,” said Turner.
In addition to varying the routes of the race, Host Cities will be able to choose from a range of flexible stopover formats – from a 24-48 hour pit-stop, to short-format stopovers of five days, through to longer ‘two weekend’ stopovers. For the first time, potential Host Cities will be able to bid for not just for race stopovers but also for more permanent bases and activities that bring significant economic value. They include bases for Volvo Ocean Race Academies, venues for the sustainability Ocean Summits and future iterations of The Boatyard, currently based in Lisbon, Portugal.
The Boatyard is responsible for the refit of the boats between races, and will also now take on the actual finishing and assembly of both new boat fleets, to be completed in 2019. Locations for the pre-race assembly period, and the stopovers of the mandatory Leg Zero race qualifier also offer strong commercial value to potential stopovers.
“The offer to all our future partners is stronger than ever,” said Turner. “These race evolutions will make the Volvo Ocean Race even more attractive to potential Host Cities, and specifically, we have a lot more inventory that they can bid for.”
The Volvo Ocean Race began life as the Whitbread Round the World Race in 1973 and the next decade will take in the 50th anniversary in 2023. To mark the anniversary, a special edition race starting in 2023 may shadow part or all of the original route or there could even be a separate ‘golden jubilee’ race featuring race legends and older boats. Either way, the bidding process for 2023 will carry special additional value. • 5/17
Dongfeng Race Team have confirmed four more crew members for their 2017-18 campaign, including the returning Chinese trio of Black, Wolf and Horace
The Chinese sailors are Jiru Yang, aged 26, who uses the English name Wolf; Liu Xue, 24, known as Black, and Chen Jinhao, 25, Horace. They are joined by Australian/British sailor Jack Bouttell in a four-strong squad of Under-30s in Charles Caudrelier’s Chinese-backed team.
Under race rules, all teams must have at least two Under-30s onboard on all 11 legs of the 46,000-nautical mile race, which starts from Alicante on October 22.
Speaking at Shanghai Auto 2017, Wolf said he was delighted to be named once again as part of Caudrelier’s final squad.
“It’s such an honour to sail again with this team,” he said. “On the boat during the hard moments, I sometimes said to myself that I would never do it again, but there are good memories too, that’s why I have come back again.
“One of the most important things for me is that we are trying to encourage more Chinese people to sail…so I hope we can bring more attention to the sport by racing again with the team.” Horace said his goal would be to concentrate on racing.
“This time I will be more focused on what I can do on the boat and, having done the last Volvo, I know what I can do,” he said. Black, who is currently sailing in the Sinan Cup Regatta in China, said: “Last time I knew nothing, I did not speak English, I didn’t know what it was like offshore and I did not know the Volvo Ocean Race. Now I have a better mental approach because Charles asked me to come back and I don’t want to let him down.”
Bowman Jack Bouttell, 26, also has experience with Dongfeng in 2014-15, having sailed on leg three. He has completed two Solitaire du Figaro campaigns. “The Volvo Ocean Race is something I’ve wanted to do for a really long time,” Bouttell said. “It’s the top of the sailing world in the crewed side of things and it’s been one of my big goals for years.”
Dongfeng Race Team skipper Charles Caudrelier says the three Chinese sailors have come a long way since their debut.
“Wolf, Black and Horace have one Volvo Ocean Race behind them and all of them sailed on at least two or three legs of the last race, so we are in quite a different position,” the Frenchman said. “Last time we were selecting them in China and teaching them how to use a winch, this time we are only speaking about performance.
“As for Jack, he is a very good single-handed sailor and did a fantastic job for us on leg three in the last race. He is a strong guy and will be our bowman but also one of the best drivers in our crew.”
Dongfeng Race Team’s other announced crew members are French solo sailing star Jérémie Beyou, the New Zealand Volvo Ocean Race experts Daryl Wislang and Stu Bannatyne and the female sailors Marie Riou of France and Caroljin Brouwer of the Netherlands. • 4/17
Date of birth: 18 January 1991 Sailing highlights:
2013: 1st Rookie, La Solitaire du Figaro 2015: 1st place, Leg 3 into Sanya onboard Dongfeng 2016: 1st place and new race record, Transat Quebec-St Malo, Spindrift 2 (maxi trimaran)
Chen Jinhao (Horace)
Date of birth: February 15, 1992 Sailing highlights:
2011: Crew member onboard 77ft yacht, Jelik
2013: Part of China Team in Extreme Sailing Series, Qingdao 2014-15: 3rd place, Volvo Ocean Race with Dongfeng Race Team
Liu Xue (Black)
Nationality: Chinese Date of birth: March 12, 1993 Sailing highlights: 2013: Member of China Team in the America’s Cup World Series 2014-15: 3rd place, Dongfeng Race Team in the Volvo Ocean Race
2015: Skipper, China Sailing Tour team in China Cup International Regatta
Yang Jiru (Wolf)
Date of birth: July 14, 1990 Sailing highlights:
2013: 9th place, America's Cup World Series, Naples
2015: 3rd place with Dongfeng Race Team in the Volvo Ocean Race
2016: 3rd place, Sydney Hobart Race with Dongfeng Race Team
Once again, GAC Pindar and GAC companies around the world will be put to the test by the Volvo Ocean Race. The 2017-18 edition will be the second consecutive time that GAC serves as the official logistics provider for the world’s premier offshore round-the-world race, after its successful collaboration in 2014-15.
The Group’s marine sport and leisure logistics specialist, GAC Pindar, will work closely with GAC offices around the world to provide a wide range of services for the Race which kicks off in Alicante, Spain, on 22 October.
That will include customs clearance and transportation of pavilions and hospitality infrastructure, broadcast and other support equipment to Host Cities across six continents.
It will be a repeat of the epic challenge presented by the 2014-15 Race, during which the GAC Pindar team clocked up more than 21,000 man hours working to ensure the smooth delivery of the event.
It also played a key role in getting two of the competing crews and their boats back in the Race after disaster struck: assisting in the Dongfeng Race Team mast replacement after it snapped en route for Brazil; and moving Team Vestas Wind’s stricken boat after it ran aground on the Cargados Carajos Shoals near Mauritius. Since its establishment in 2011, GAC Pindar has become the go-to provider of marine leisure logistics, offering a complete range of services such as yacht transport, superyacht fuels, air ocean and land freight, yacht spares logistics, sailing even management and ship agency.
The announcement of its appointment for the Volvo Ocean Race 2017-18 follows the signing in November 2016 of a long-term deal making it the official provider of marine logistics and shipping services for World Sailing, the world governing body of sailing representing more than 140 member nations.
GAC Pindar is also the official logistics provider for the Extreme Sailing Series, World Match Racing and the M32 Series. “We are thrilled to again be the official logistics provider for this iconic event, building on the success of our collaboration for the 2014-15 Volvo Ocean Race,” says Andrew Pindar, Team Principal, GAC Pindar.
“This appointment for the second consecutive time sends a clear message about our ability to meet the toughest challenges in yachting. We have established ourselves as a leader in the field, and that reputation is underpinned by the qualities that the GAC Group as a whole, the Volvo Ocean Race and its participants embody – stamina, spirit and teamwork.”
Herman Jorgensen, Managing Director of GAC UK, adds: “Both GAC Pindar and the global GAC Group as a whole value such long-term relationships which draw on past experience and lessons learned to drive efficiencies and cost savings.”
Volvo Ocean Race COO Richard Mason underlines the importance of working with a reliable logistics partners: “As a unique global event working under severe time pressures and facing unexpected obstacles, flexible logistics management is integral to operational delivery of the Volvo Ocean Race.
The 2017-18 edition will see the sailors tackle one of the toughest race courses in recent history – and with 12 Host Cities on six continents, we’re facing a challenge on-shore, too. “Working alongside a world-class, industry-leading player such as GAC Pindar, gives us great faith that we can not only meet those challenges, but over-deliver once again.” • 2/17
There are 268 days until the Volvo Ocean Race fleet departs Alicante ahead of a 45,000 nautical mile marathon through the most challenging oceans on the planet, and Dongfeng Race Team are set to make the most of that preparation time after becoming the first to take delivery of their newly-refitted Volvo Ocean 65 at The Boatyard in Lisbon today.
The handover marks the formal beginning of the Chinese team’s second consecutive campaign, and holds extra special significance as it is exactly two years to the day since Charles Caudrelier and Dongfeng Race Team won their 2014-15 homecoming leg into Sanya.
Having been through a re-fit process worth around one million euros, the boat now features an eye-catching new colour scheme and branding, alongside a range of upgraded kit consisting of over 500 items across sails, deck gear, electronics and a new media and navigation station.
“For us, today is the largest milestone we’ve had so far in the re-fit period. It’s 15 weeks since Dongfeng gave the boat to us, and the deadline for returning it is today,” explains Neil Cox, Paint and Commissioning Manager at the Boatyard.
“We’ve had two days of sea trials which have gone well, and that’s the culmination of an enormous amount of work by 25 to 35 people, who have worked the last three and a half months putting in close to 3,500 man hours into the boat, covering everything from boatbuilding, rigging, to electronics, and sails, to get it stripped and put it back together.”
He continues: “In addition to that, we’ve put an additional 2,500 man hours into painting and branding, which has pretty much seen every area of the boat – from the hull, deck, masts, keel, rudders and daggerboards – stripped, re-primed and brought back into new paint, so we’re giving back a product which looks like a brand new boat.”
And Dongfeng technical specialists were full of praise for the Boatyard team, who have given the boat a complete overhaul whilst under huge time pressure. “We have our boat back and she is still the same one that we got to know last time,” said boat captain, Graham Tourell.
“But really she is almost new with some innovative upgrades – everything has been either replaced or renewed and she looks stunning in her new livery.’ Dongfeng skipper Charles has been working for months to build his crew for a campaign which he hopes will see the team better their third place of 2014-15, and the handover of the boat is a landmark occasion, he says.
“Getting our hands on the boat today is another huge step for us. It marks the beginning of another adventure for our team and the moment that we start our training programme in earnest. In the next few weeks we will also be able to finalise our crew selection.” Who will sail onboard Dongfeng is not yet confirmed, but the Frenchman revealed that his squad will once again feature a mixed Chinese and western crew and will take advantage of new rules designed to encourage female sailors to take part.
“We’re looking for people who are competitive, determined to succeed and committed to our cause,” said Caudrelier. “Competition for each slot on the boat is exceptionally tough but we are determined to take our time and make sure we have the right mix.”
With the main phase of boat preparation now completed the focus switches to Dongfeng Race Team’s on-the-water training and racing programme in the lead-up to the Volvo Ocean Race start from Alicante in Spain on 22 October.
The 2017-18 route will see the Volvo Ocean 65 fleet race more than three times as many Southern Ocean miles as in recent editions, visiting 12 landmark cities across approximately 45,000 nautical miles – including a first return to Melbourne, Australia in over a decade, as announced on Thursday – and Caudrelier can’t wait to test the boat against the toughest conditions on the planet.
“As a team, we’re relishing the new emphasis in the 2017-18 Volvo Ocean Race on racing in the Southern Ocean and leg three is going to be one of the biggest challenges we will face,” he added. • 1/17