Charles Caudrelier led his team out of Serenity Marina, Sanya, China today as ‘Dongfeng’ set sail for Auckland, New Zealand. This journey, officially described as a Training Leg, will allow Charles to analyse and test the six Chinese Race Squad sailors onboard – a key initiative to help Charles choose the final race crew for the Volvo Ocean Race.
The enormity of what lay ahead, not just on the offshore training voyage but the race itself, was uppermost in the sailor’s minds. “You can only do so much preparation for this onshore,” explains Jin Hao Chen. “There comes a time when you just have to get on and do it. When I watch videos of this leg during the last edition of the race I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t scared, but if you ask me if I think I’m capable the answer is yes.”
Leaving the shores of China today is not only a key milestone for the team who have been training hard at Serenity Marina, the team’s Official Training Base in Sanya, for over a month, but also an emotional one as the sailors know they will not return to Chinese shores until January 2015 on the official race stopover. But the professionalism of the team allows no time for sentiment as skipper Charles Caudrelier focuses on the next chapter: “The six Chinese sailors onboard will be pushed to their limits during this training leg,” says Caudrelier. “Leg 4 of the Volvo Ocean Race is one of the toughest legs of all and although these sailors are incredibly talented inshore sailors, sailing offshore for 21 days on a leg like this is a whole different story. Some guys will naturally cope very well and others will not. I already have a good idea of who will do well from our training in Sanya but you can never be too sure which is why training legs like these are essential!” For Jin Hao Chen (Horace), Liu Ming (Leo), Ying Kit Cheng (Kit), Liu Xue, Jiru Yang (Wolf) and Yiran Zhang this won’t only be their longest offshore sailing experience, Sanya to Auckland is 5,264 nautical miles, but also be their first time crossing the Equator.
The team will be sending regular update reports and content from the training leg to Auckland, and you can also track the progress of ‘Dongfeng’ via the team’s official tracker:
The remaining five Academy Squad sailors Kong ChenCheng, Xiaoling Li, Zhang Peng, Shen Sheng (Sam) and Zhen Li will remain in Sanya to represent Dongfeng Race Team in the annual Round Hainan Regatta from 21st-28th March, as part of the team’s continuing plans towards establishing a permanent Ocean Racing Academy in China that will have the potential to provide a major boost to the development of professional sailing in China. “A future project like this is obviously a step-by-step process,” explains Team Director, Bruno Dubois. “We have funding in place to keep the Academy Sailors in training through to May and the Hainan Regatta is a great opportunity to represent the team parallel to our training leg. A key focus for us is to find additional funding and supporting partners to secure the ongoing future of an Ocean Racing Academy.”
The Round Hainan Regatta is one of China’s premium offshore race where both national and international teams compete. Hundreds of sailors from China, the United States, Canada, UK, France, Australia, New Zealand, Japan and Malaysia will be taking part. The five Academy Squad sailors participating in the regatta will be joined by three Academy coaches to race the two Sun Fast 3200’s provided by the team’s Official Supplier Jeanneau. “I feel privileged to represent Dongfeng Race Team in the Hainan Regatta, its a very famous race here in China and we intend to do well,” says China Yachting Association Sailor Kong Chen Cheng.
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