Dongfeng Team Sets Sail On Transatlantic Trial
Published: Thursday, 29 May 2014
It’s hard to believe that with so little time left to the start of the Volvo Ocean Race, for Chinese sailors Kong Chen Cheng Jiru, "Wolf" Yang, and Jin Hao Chen, "Horace" this will be their very first ocean crossing.
Dongfeng arrived safely in the US one week ago, thanks to Maersk Line, the team’s new official shipping partner. She has since been re-assembled and prepared in Newport, Rhode Island, one of the ten stops in the Volvo Ocean Race next year.
The team is scheduled to set sail in the coming days for its first transatlantic crossing and skipper Charles Caudrelier will use this passage to help decide the team for the race that will begin in less than five months.
“It’s been a whirlwind of a journey with the selection process so far,” says Caudrelier, “We’ve gone from having 14 Chinese sailors who thought themselves capable of doing the Volvo Ocean Race to now just five. We were sad to lose a couple of the best guys simply because they found the going too tough in offshore mode. However I am confident that the remaining Chinese sailors are growing stronger mentally and physically everyday – and that we will achieve our ambitious target in terms of numbers of Chinese sailors in the team for the race.”
Charles will be making the final evaluations of all the sailors during this transatlantic text, including world-class sailors Martin Strömberg, Pascal Bidegorry, Eric Peron and Thomas Rouxel. He will be testing both the western sailors and the Chinese apprentices, as well as all the team member's compatibility – making a final decision on the team for the race in the weeks that follow. Although still very much in the running for the final race team, Chinese sailors Liu "Leo" Ming and Ying "Kit" Cheng will stay ashore for the crossing, and Kong Chen Chen who recently joined the team from the China Yachting Association’s Olympic class sailing programme will step onboard. “We are pushing the Chinese sailors to their limits every day. They only have six months to learn what most of their competitors have had one or more decades for!” says Team Director Bruno Dubois. “This transatlantic test is a perfect opportunity for the Chinese sailors to see what a leg in the Volvo Ocean Race is really like, and with mentors like Martin and Charles, they have the opportunity to learn from the best.”
An important addition to the Dongfeng Race Team campaign is a partnership with Maersk Line, announced today as the team’s Official Shipping Partner. “We are inspired by the impressive level of ambition shown by Dongfeng Race Team – and the promise the company has made to help make China a nation that excels in offshore sailing. Maersk Line is proud to help Dongfeng deliver on that promise”, says Stephen Schuler, Maersk Line Chief Commercial Officer. The team’s Volvo Ocean 65 was shipped onboard the Maersk Albert from Hong Kong in to Newark, New York. From there Dongfeng was unloaded and transported to Newport on a barge where she was reassembled and put into racing mode.
Almost exactly a year ahead of the stopover, Sail Newport’s executive director Brad Read and his team have welcomed the team with open arms. “The City of Newport and the State of Rhode Island have been delighted to welcome Dongfeng Race Team to our wonderful harbor. Newport’s role as a training site for 4 of the Volvo Ocean Race Teams in the spring and summer of 2014 will bring awareness towards the events that will be held here in May of 2015 during the North American Stopover of the Volvo Ocean Race. We welcome the sailors and support team to our safe harbor and stand by to help them with any marine services that they need during their stay from our internationally renowned sailmakers, riggers and marine technology companies.”