Published: Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Chinese Volvo Ocean Race team Dongfeng left Sanya and set sail for Auckland, New Zealand on March 22, on what is officially described as a training leg. This long and demanding voyage, run under race conditions, will test the six Chinese sailors aboard and allow team captain Charles Caudrelier to evaluate each crew member. Each of the sailors are working for a  spot on the final team.

“The six Chinese sailors onboard will be pushed to their limits during this training leg,” says Caudrelier, “Leg 4 of the Volvo Ocean Race is one of the toughest legs of all and although these sailors are incredibly talented inshore sailors, sailing offshore for 21 days on a leg like this is a whole different story.”

The enormity of what lay ahead, not just on the offshore training voyage but the race itself, was uppermost in the sailor’s minds. Leaving Chinese coastal waters is not only a key milestone for the team, who have been training hard at Serenity Marina for over a month, but also an emotional one as the sailors know they will not return to Chinese shores until January 2015 on the official race stopover.

Dongfeng Vor Hopefuls Depart China For New Zealand

The remaining five Academy Squad sailors Kong ChenCheng, Xiaoling Li, Zhang Peng, Shen Sheng (Sam) and Zhen Li will remain in Sanya to represent Dongfeng Race Team in the annual Round Hainan Regatta from March 21-28, as part of the team’s continuing plans towards establishing a permanent Ocean Racing Academy in China that will have the potential to provide a major boost to the development of professional sailing in China. 

“A future project like this is obviously a step-by-step process,” explains Team Director, Bruno Dubois. “We have funding in place to keep the Academy Sailors in training through to May and the Hainan Regatta is a great opportunity to represent the team parallel to our training leg. A key focus for us is to find additional funding and supporting partners to secure the ongoing future of an Ocean Racing Academy.”