Dongfeng Race Team Announces Crew For Leg 1 Of Volvo Ocean Race
Published: Monday, 06 October 2014
It has been an interesting journey so far for the Chinese team in the Volvo Ocean Race. Approximately 10 months ago Dongfeng Race Team set out on a mission to select and train Chinese recruits with the hope that they would be ready to race in Leg 1 of the 2014-15 Volvo Ocean Race, starting from Alicante, Spain on Oct 11.
After 10,000 nautical training miles taking place in five countries, the final race crew of Dongfeng Race Team for Leg 1 has been announced.
(Photo courtesy Ainhoa Sanchez / Volvo Ocean Race)
Racing onboard for Leg 1:
Charles Caudrelier (Skipper/Helmsman)
Pascal Bidégorry (Navigator/Helmsman/Trimmer)
Martin Strömberg (Watch Leader/Helmsman/Pit)
Wolf Yang Jiru (Pit/Trimmer)
Thomas Rouxel (Watch Leader/Helsman/Trimmer)
Kévin Escoffier (Bowman/Helmsman)
Horace Chen Jin Hao (Bowman/Trimmer)
Eric Peron (Trimmer/Helmsman)
Yann Riou (Onboard Reporter)
When the Dongfeng Race Team was launched back in October 2013, the ambitions of the project were clear – to have the interests of Chinese sailing at its core, with a significant number of Chinese in both its on-water and support teams – to race for China, and for the future of Chinese sailing. The learning curve has been steep. Taking rookie, Mandarin only speaking Chinese sailors and transforming them into race ready offshore sailors in an international team, able to take on the most extreme and demanding offshore crewed round the world race, has been a huge challenge.
Despite this, six Chinese sailors made it through the intense training programme and are now part of the Dongfeng Race Team final race squad, alongside six professional Western offshore sailors.
Charles Caudrelier had many factors to think about when choosing his crew – the ultimate one being safety. The Chinese sailors who race will be the ones most capable of dealing with the extreme nature of life on board. They will also be the most competent and competitive.
“I’m counting down the days,” says Wolf Yang Jiru. “I still cannot believe that in six days my dream will come true. We have worked so hard for this from the moment I saw the recruitment advert I knew I had to do this.”
“I thank everyone for their support, especially the crew and the shore crew,” says Horace Chen Jin Hao. “I know that they have put their trust in us and I really hope I don’t let them down. I have some photos of my family, I will look at the photos whenever I miss them during the race.”
With the extreme demands that the Volvo Ocean Race will impose on the crew, the six Chinese sailors will rotate between set positions on the boat, and key positions in the shore team, throughout the race. On some legs, for example the leg into Sanya, the goal is to have three Chinese sailors amongst the eight-strong crew as traditionally this leg is in lighter winds, and less stressful conditions. The legs known for their extreme nature both in terms of weather and intensity, such as the leg from New Zealand to Brazil through the Southern Ocean, only two Chinese sailors are likely to race. It’s not out of the question that there could be four sailors on one of the shorter legs in Europe. The learning curve will continue to be steep throughout the race for the rookies – and the aim is to finish this race with an experienced squad of sailors and shore team support that can help take Chinese offshore sailing forward in the future.
“I’ve had sleepless nights, I’m not going to lie, but in reality I know what a huge achievement it is to have Horace and Wolf onboard,” says Dongfeng Team Director Bruno Dubois. “I think we have come a long way since the first day we tested the guys in Sanya. I am also pleased with the non-Chinese sailors who kept their focus on what is our primary objective – to launch properly Chinese offshore sailing. I now can let the guys go on this first leg with the feeling that we have made a major step forward for China.”