Published: Monday, 30 June 2014

French Skipper Charles Caudrelier announces Dongfeng Race Team will be a blend of five world-class Western sailors and four novice crew from mainland China, giving a significant boost to the Chinese challenge in this 12th running of the Volvo Ocean Race offshore event.

The races in 2008-2009 and 2011-2012 each had one Chinese participant.

“This is a very important development for the race,” says Volvo Ocean Race CEO Knut Frostad. “We are building a fan following in China which is a key market for us and the sport is growing there after their London Olympic success when one of their sailors won a gold medal.” Frostad believes a lot of people will be following the Chinese sailors progress.

Dongfeng Race Team Includes Four Chinese Crewmembers

The selection of the quartet was the culmination of a nationwide search and six months hard work according to team chief Bruno Dubois. “It was a search for China's future sailing stars,” says Dubois. “We were searching for candidates who could take on the challenges that the race would throw at them.”

He also noted that he was encouraged by the quality of the team after a concentrated programme that included 10,000nm in just half a year. They lost some great candidates along the way. “The challenge and hardship of ocean racing does not suit everyone,” says Dubois.

The final selection was left to Dongfeng Skipper Caudrelier on who would become members of the crew in their race to represent China. His decision on the strongest went to Chinese sailors Jin (Horace) Hao Chin, Jiru (Wolf) Yang, Ying (Kit) Kit Cheng, and Liu (Leo) Ming.

Attitude was one of the most important attributes. “Horace, Leo, Kit and Wolf had by far the best attitudes and were the most motivated.” Caudrelier, knows exactly the right attitude it takes to excel in the Volvo Ocean Race. He was a key member aboard Team Groupama for their win during the 2011-2012 event.

Dongfeng Race Team Includes Four Chinese Crewmembers 2

“This is my dream and this is the proudest day of my life,” Yang says. “Before Dongfeng Race Team I didn’t feel like my life had direction, but now it does. I know who I am and where I’m going. I’m going to represent my country in the Volvo Ocean Race.”

Five world-class professional offshore sailors were also announced in Lorient, the final full stopover for the Volvo Ocean race next year, forming the backbone of Dongfeng Race Team. First up was Swede Martin Strömberg, a teammate from Groupama whom Caudrelier believes has the character and experience to meld the diverse cultures on the Dongfeng boat into a winning team.

The skipper rounded out the team by choosing four of his own countrymen to be sure the team would have a wealth of experience: Thomas Rouxel, Pascal Bidégorry, Kevin Escoffier and Eric Peron. One of the most experienced offshore sailors from France, Bidégorry has yet to compete in sailing's most difficult and honored event.

Dongfeng Race Team also announced that China's Aeolus Tyres, a global top 20 premium tyre manufacturer along with the city of Shiyan, Dongfeng's home city and the spiritual home of Kung Fu, had become platinum sponsors.

The race, starting Oct 4 in Alicante, Spain, visits 11 countries while the boats traverse 13,739 nautical miles before they finish in Gothenburg on June 27, 2015.

Dongfeng Race Team 

Charles Caudrelier, Skipper (FRA)

Pascal Bidégorry, Navigator (FRA)

Liu Ming (Leo), Trimmer (CHN)

Thomas Rouxel, Trimmer (FRA)

Martin Strömberg, Pit & Trimmer (SWE)

Jiru Yang (Wolf), Pit (CHN)

Kevin Escoffier, Bowman (FRA)

Jin Hao Chen (Horace), Bowman (CHN)

Eric Peron, Trimmer (FRA)

Ying Kit Cheng (Kit), Trimmer (CHN)

Onboard Reporter (TBC)