Published: Tuesday, 10 March 2015

Ireland’s top sailor Damian Foxall is the latest recruit to Dongfeng Race Team. His passion for offshore racing and going fast make him the perfect candidate to join the crew on what is undeniably the toughest and longest leg (6,776nm) of the Volvo Ocean Race.

Dongfeng Race Team Crew Changes For Leg 5 Of The Volvo Ocean Race

(Photo of Damian Foxall by Ian Roman)

Other changes include Thomas Rouxel leaving for this leg and Pascal Bidégorry and Yann Riou (as on board reporter) returning.

As the race heads into the dangerous Southern Ocean with freezing temperatures and the risk of ice, huge waves and storm force winds – it will be a new and different experience for the Chinese sailors.

Damian has competed in four Volvo Ocean Races so far, racing with Charles Caudrelier on board the winning Groupama Sailing Team last time.

Dongfeng Race Team Crew Changes For Leg 5 Of The Volvo Ocean Race 1 

(Photo by Ainhoa Sanchez / Volvo Ocean Race)

“I am delighted to be back in the saddle, this will be the 10th round the world event that I will be involved with and my eighth rounding of Cape Horn,” said Foxall. “It is a privilege to have the opportunity to join Charles and the boys onboard Dongfeng who have been doing such an exemplary job. My role is to fit in as seamlessly as possible and to bring the benefit of a fresh person to the team. It is hard to overstate the difficulty of the Volvo Ocean Race for the sailors and teams, the longest sporting event in any sport, and it is exactly this, the duration, that makes it so hard. A planned rotation of the crew at key times has become a crucial part of any successful team’s strategy.”

Setting speed records runs in his blood – Round The World Non-Stop, as a crewmember of maxi-catamaran Cheyenne in 2004 and 10 years later another speed record racing around Britain and Ireland on the MOD 70 trimaran Oman Sail. There’s not much Damian hasn’t done when it comes to sailing but the choice of Foxall for Leg 5 from Auckland to Itajai, Brazil also comes down to his own solo and short-handed race experience.

Dongfeng Race Team Crew Changes For Leg 5 Of The Volvo Ocean Race 2

(Photo by Yann Riou / Dongfeng Race Team)

Three goes and a leg win at the annual Solitaire du Figaro in the late 1990s (the unofficial world championship of solo sailing that Caudrelier won in 2004) and victory in the two-handed Barcelona World Race in 2008, ensures Damian’s skill set matches those of his French teammates. Damian will replace Thomas Rouxel on this leg, continuing the crew rotation plan set by Charles to ensure his crew are fighting fit and bringing fresh energy into the team.

Navigator, Pascal Bidégorry, is back and will undoubtedly find the Southern Ocean leg less painful than being stuck on land as he was for Leg 4. And Charles has decided, once again, to take Chinese sailors Yang Jiru (Wolf) and, hopefully, Chen Jin Hao (Horace), although some doubt remains over Horace’s fitness and will be decided next week subject to a decision by the team physiotherapist.

Leg 5 will begin March 15 and take the fleet to Itajaí, Brazil.