Published: Friday, 02 January 2015

Dongfeng Race Team have overcome adversity on many occasions - a broken rudder, broken pad-eye and damaged mast to name a few - all the while continuing to push forward with the long-term sporting mission of training Chinese rookies from leg to leg, often replacing one Chinese sailor with another to ensure equal experience, which most expected would have a negative effect on performance.

Crew Change Onboard Dongfeng For Leg 3 Of Volvo Ocean Race 2

“If we had an all professional crew we would simply be a western project with Chinese money," says Team Director Bruno Dubois. "That is not who we are and not what we’re about. We could have also just trained two guys and kept them onboard for each leg – but we know we have to widen the base of experience amongst the Chinese sailors, and that won’t happen by leaving them onshore. So it's on the job training.”

Cheng Ying (Kit) will sail onboard Dongfeng for the first time in the race in Leg 3 and will accompany his friend and colleague Liu Xue (Black), star performer in Leg 2, in what will be an important leg for the team as they head to their home country, China. Kit will be the fourth Chinese sailor to sail with the team since the race started in October. Kit is also the most advanced in terms of technical knowledge amongst the Chinese selected for the Dongfeng 12-strong squad – and harbours the ambition, and potential, to manage a future Chinese campaign as Technical Manager. Sailing in the race will give him vital experience required to do that job in the future.

“You know for two legs I have been working in the shore team and I’ve been happy, learning and living so much, I never expected to be on the boat," says Kit. "So when Charles [Caudrelier, Dongfeng Team Skipper] told me, just before Christmas it was like the perfect early Christmas present, the best one. I am going to live my dream and I finally get to sail on the boat we have worked so hard to maintain and prepare."

Crew Change Onboard Dongfeng For Leg 3 Of Volvo Ocean Race 3

The lack of experience of the Chinese sailors puts constant extra pressure on the western sailors who often have to over-compensate and then, on top of this, find the time and energy to mentor. Crew changes (as any sports team will tell you) can also alter the chemistry but this is a risk the team have decided to take in the quest to work towards the long-term goal. Today it was announced that the final crew for Leg 3 would be: Charles Caudrelier, Pascal Bidégorry, Eric Peron, Thomas Rouxel, Jack Bouttell, Kevin Escoffier, Liu Xue (Black), Cheng Ying (Kit) and Sam Greenfield (onboard reporter).

“Looking ahead to Sanya I have a good feeling about this leg," says Caudrelier. "Most people don’t understand but 10 months ago these guys discovered offshore sailing, they have been training all this time and now they will come home to China to share their experience with their country. I know we can expect a great reception but I hope we will do China proud because this is our home leg. It’s where is all started.”

Crew Change Onboard Dongfeng For Leg 3 Of Volvo Ocean Race 4

(Photos by Yann Riou / Dongfeng Race Team)