Published: Wednesday, 07 January 2015

Dongfeng Race Team are leading the fleet by 17 nautical miles with 4,160nm to go to Sanya, China. This race is a one-design fleet, so a 17nm lead on day four is a not a bad start, not that anyone particularly wants to admit it at this stage for fear of jinxing the situation. Sailors and sailing fans are a superstitious bunch – no green paint, no bananas, stick a coin under the mast when you first step it, keep a “lucky” bit of wood onboard, and the list goes on.

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(Charles Caudrelier)

“This morning we discovered Pakistan,” says Skipper Charles Caudrelier. “We were a little worried to go so close to the coast as we’re pretty sure it’s never seen a boat like ours – hundreds of fishing boats everywhere. Time to decide as we gybed at the right moment resulting in a stronger lead and the positioning we wanted, to be furthest east of the fleet to bypass the high pressure system. Although now we’re pretty sure the wind will turn right 80 degrees. This will be a compromise between wind strength and direction, we’ll have to wait and see.”

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Dongfeng Race Team could have picked the two Chinese sailors who had already done a leg of the race for a better chance of winning what is undoubtedly the most important leg of the race for the Chinese project. It was a difficult decision and even 24 hours before the final crew list was due, it could have tipped either way. The final decision was to take Cheng Ying “Kit” onboard for Leg 3 alongside Liu Xue “Black”. Kit is the fourth Chinese sailor to sail a leg since the race began back in October.

So just to re-cap, Skipper Charles Caudrelier set off for Leg 3 with three crew (Jack Bouttell and Sam Greenfield also came aboard) who had never even raced onboard Dongfeng before and now four days in, this team are leading the fleet to China, against all odds. The more challenges thrown at this team, the more this team come out on top.

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Now past the Iranian exclusion zone they will stay north, close to the Pakistani coast to avoid a high-pressure system to the south. Tonight they can expect more winds (15-16 knots) and less drifting as the higher winds mark a change from the light Gulf thermal conditions to the more established monsoon winds of India.

(Photos: Sam Greenfield / Dongfeng Race Team)