Published: Wednesday, 14 December 2016

The new Dongfeng Race Team, skippered by Charles Caudrelier, will join the battle of the Rolex Sydney Hobart Race Dec 26-Jan 1 in partnership with China’s UBOX sailing project.

Dongfeng Race Team Partners With Ubox For Rolex Sydney Hobart 1

(Photos: Dongfeng Race Team - Training with UBOX in Sydney)

The UBOX project is part of the team’s mission to grow the sport of offshore ocean racing in China and the French Skipper sees the Sydney Hobart race as a warm-up for the Volvo Ocean Race.

Chinese vending machine company UBOX Chief Executive Wang Bin was delighted with the partnership with Dongfeng Race Team and believes it is the historical moment for the Chinese sailing world. He became fond of sailing after being invited to join a race in Hong Kong in 2003 and has since skippered the first Chinese yacht to complete a circumnavigation.

"The cooperation between UBOX and Dongfeng Race Team is a joint training process," he says. "It not only shows our support of Dongfeng Race Team but also offers an opportunity for my sailors to learn from Charles's crew. Perhaps next year, our team can take part in an international race. All in all, this is a meaningful cooperation, so I am willing to do it."

Dongfeng Race Team Partners With Ubox For Rolex Sydney Hobart 3

(UBOX Chief Executive Wang Bin)

Caudrelier has been in the training for the race with a mixed Chinese and French crew on board Cookson 50 UBOX, which is owned by Wang. He will also join the team for the race. There are eight Chinese UBOX sailors on board, along with Caudrelier’s Volvo Ocean Race navigator Pascal Bidégorry, Thomas Rouxel and Jiru Jang as well as some potential new recruits to the team. The crew completed an overnight passage from its base at the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia at Rushcutters Bay on Sydney Harbour.

"It is great to train all together and it's one of our goals to help develop offshore sailing in China," Caudrelier says. "The Volvo itself is one part of that but there is a limit to the number of Chinese sailors we can taken on our race crew so this project, and the Sydney Hobart, is a great way to help more young Chinese sailors learn the ropes."

Dongfeng Race Team Partners With Ubox For Rolex Sydney Hobart

Former Solitaire du Figaro winner, Caudrelier will take part in the Sydney Hobart race for the first time. "I have never done it – this will be my first time and I hope it will be the last," quipped the French skipper. "It looks like a hard upwind race with strong winds and cold conditions but we will sail some of this course – albeit in the opposite direction in the Volvo – so it is good to practice it," he says. 

Caudrelier returned to Europe and travelled to Lisbon in Portugal to check on the major re-fit of Dongfeng at the Volvo Ocean Race official Boatyard facility. The red and white Chinese Volvo Ocean 65 is the first of the seven boats that took part in the last race to enter the re-fit process and it is due to emerge from the shed in January.