25/03/2015, Barcelona (ESP), Barcelona World Race 2014-15, Cheminées Poujoulat (Bernard Stamm/Jean Le Cam) arrival in 1st place. (Photo © Gilles Martin-Raget / Barcelona World Race )

25/03/2015, Barcelona (ESP), Barcelona World Race 2014-15, Cheminées Poujoulat (Bernard Stamm/Jean Le Cam) arrival in 1st place. (Photo © Gilles Martin-Raget / Barcelona World Race )

It was just at sunset, in the end, when Bernard Stamm and Jean Le Cam broke the finish line off Barcelona’s iconic W-Hotel to complete their victory in the Barcelona World Race. They punched the air with delight as the gun sounded after 84 days and 5 hours of racing, a joyous release of elation and relief. Within seconds they had their technical team and family aboard on board Cheminées Poujoulat to share the moments.

25/03/2015, Barcelona (ESP), Barcelona World Race 2014-15, Cheminées Poujoulat (Bernard Stamm/Jean Le Cam) arrival in 1st place. (Photo © Gilles Martin-Raget / Barcelona World Race)

25/03/2015, Barcelona (ESP), Barcelona World Race 2014-15, Cheminées Poujoulat (Bernard Stamm/Jean Le Cam) arrival in 1st place. (Photo © Gilles Martin-Raget / Barcelona World Race)

Both Stamm and Le Cam have endured more than enough of their own histories of disappointments racing round the world to ensure that those seconds after the gun meant so much more.
Stamm was disqualified from the last Vendée Globe for inadvertently receiving outside assistance and in four campaigns has yet to be placed in the pinnacle solo round the world race.

Le Cam once had to abandon the Vendée Globe, in 2008, when his boat capsized off Cape Horn. He also had to retire from the last edition of this race in 2011 when the mast ofPresident, the IMOCA 60 he raced with Bruno Garcia, crashed down just north of the Cape Verde islands. So their success together was as much cathartic as it was a time for celebration.
So, when asked when he was really sure they would win this Barcelona World Race, despite a lead of nearly 1000 miles since before Cape Horn, Stamm admitted:
” When we crossed the finish line, we knew then that we could win.”  
And, following his short, curtailed experience of the 2010-2011 race,  Jean Le Cam was asked if ever he had specific worries about the mast of Cheminées Poujoulat coming down during the race. He responded immediately:
“No. Not at one point………. Only all the time. All the time. It is always with you. It is the most visible and important thing you can see. And when it has happened to you before, it is always in your mind.”
On the dock, below the statue of Christopher Columbus on Barcelona’s Portal de la Pau, they were quizzed for their first reactions:
What does it represent a victory in the Barcelona World Race?
Bernard Stamm: We are always happy and now we are happy because there is a victory after a great adventure …
Jean Le Cam: When we win, we can only be happy. We left Barcelona, it was a circumnavigation and we returned to Barcelona, it’s as simple as that.

Jean Le Cam at press conference (Photo by Gilles Martin-Raget / Barcelona World Race )

Jean Le Cam at press conference (Photo by Gilles Martin-Raget / Barcelona World Race )

What are your first feelings?
Bernard Stamm: First and foremost there is a great satisfaction. It all worked well, we managed to overcome all our technical problems and we can say that we have had enough of them.
Jean Le Cam: Certainly. I think that alone, we would not have finished the race. Fortunately Bernard knows well how to climb the mast.
Bernard Stamm: It’s a team effort. The guy who’s on the deck has to work as well, he has to grind to  hoist the one who will work up there. We had lots of problems but together we were able to find solutions.  That is what is different from being two soloists on the same boat.
Bernard Stamm: For three months you share your race with someone else. When we had a technical problem, we were both thinking, we exchanged ideas. And all the time you are keeping the boat moving.
Jean Le Cam: And we had plenty of worries. We went half way around the world with a wind vane cobbled together on a little mast on the back of the boat, which we changed depending on what tack we were on. We finally got one to the top of the mast as you will see there is an external cable running up to it.
Bernard Stamm: We had also had lock worries on the mainsail. I can say that when we successfully repaired them, it was a moment of true happiness.In the press conference:
What were the shared moments of happiness?
Jean Le Cam: Inevitably, when we get to find solutions together, then you share that happiness together. We can’t forget that we had a really windy south, it was a year to remember.
Bernard Stamm: And then there is also the pleasure of making a good move or two.
North of Canaries before reaching a Gibraltar that will be remembered. At first you are so focused and busy, but then like then you see the results and enjoy it.
Jean Le Cam: That’s it. Two up you can really share, it is a really rich experience.
Their relationship? Arguments?
Bernard Stamm: ” If we had any problems with each other it was because we were tired or stressed or both, it was a reflex reaction and these just come and then they are gone as quickly as they came. We generally got on very well. We just focussed on making the boat go well, and as that is a difficult boat to handle, we just basically did not ever have any time to do anything but work on the boat, there was no time for arguments.”
Jean Le Cam; “We are still together. It is not La Vie en Rose. It is like being a couple. We each have carry our own cross. It is not easy for us. You just have to concede things to each other and get on with it, get through each day.

Bernard Stamm at press conference (Photo by Gilles Martin-Raget / Barcelona World Race )

Bernard Stamm at press conference (Photo by Gilles Martin-Raget / Barcelona World Race )

Bernard Stamm: ” I have wanted to participate in the Barcelona World Race since the first edition but have  not been able to, so to be able to compete this time, and to win it, is a great reward. I have had a lot of adventures, bad experiences on races, but I have had some great victories too. I have only ever won races which are round the world races.
Jean Le Cam: We always watched all the others, it is always interesting to watch what they are doing, and especially Bruno Garcia who I did the last race with, to see how they were doing. You have an interest in everyone, it is part of the daily life.
Skills, how they worked the boat
Bernard Stamm: ” You have different skills. We covered everything together. I looked after the computer side of things and Jean did more of the techncial stuff on deck. We never, ever defined our roles as such. “

 

Barcelona World Race 2014-2015 Winners Jean Le Cam and Bernard Stamm at finish line in Barcelona after completing circumnavigation on their IMOCA 60   Cheminées Poujoulat, in 84 Days 5 hours. (Photo by Gilles Martin-Raget / Barcelona World Race )

Barcelona World Race 2014-2015 Winners Jean Le Cam and Bernard Stamm at finish line in Barcelona after completing circumnavigation on their IMOCA 60 Cheminées Poujoulat, in 84 Days 5 hours. (Photo by Gilles Martin-Raget / Barcelona World Race )

 

In-Port Race Alicante - Volvo Ocean Race 2014-2015

SANYA, China, January 27 – Dongfeng Race Team claimed a key landmark in the 41-year history of the Volvo Ocean Race on Tuesday when they emphatically won Leg 3 in their home port of Sanya to take the overall lead with six stages to go.

No Chinese team has won a leg in the race before despite two previous entries – Green Dragon in 2008-09 and Team Sanya in 2011-12 – but Charles Caudrelier’s (FRA) crew put that right in style.

Leg 3
DTL

(NM)

GAIN/LOSS

(NM)

DTF

(NM)

Speed

(kt)

DFRT
DFRT FIN – 023d 13h 31m 38s
ADOR
ADOR 0 46 37.2 12
ALVI
ALVI 12.1 48 49.6 13
MAPF
MAPF 19.9 47 57.4 13
TBRU
TBRU 21.2 47 58.6 13
SCA1
SCA1 106.4 46 143.9 12
VEST
VEST Did Not Start

.

Dongfeng Race Team escorted into Sanya after winning leg 3 of the Volvo Ocean Race 2014-15.  (Photo by Victor Fraile/Volvo Ocean Race)

Dongfeng Race Team escorted into Sanya after winning leg 3 of the Volvo Ocean Race 2014-15. (Photo by Victor Fraile/Volvo Ocean Race)

 

“It’s the most stressful leg I’ve ever done in my life,” said a mightily relieved Caudrelier, minutes after crossing the line. “But the result is fantastic!”

After finishing narrow runners-up to Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing (Ian Walker/GBR) and Team Brunel (Bouwe Bekking/NED) respectively in Legs 1 and 2, Dongfeng took a firm grip of the 4,670-nautical mile stage from Abu Dhabi to China virtually from the start on January 3.

Charles Caudrelier,  Skipper of Dongfeng Race Team making sail adjustments prior to winning leg 3 of the Volvo Ocean Race 2014-15 in Sanya, China (Photo by  Sam Greenfield/Dongfeng Race Team/Volvo Ocean Race)

Charles Caudrelier, Skipper of Dongfeng Race Team making sail adjustments prior to winning leg 3 of the Volvo Ocean Race 2014-15 in Sanya, China (Photo by Sam Greenfield/Dongfeng Race Team/Volvo Ocean Race)

At one stage, entering the treacherous Malacca Strait, they stretched their advantage over the fleet to more than 106nm but the fleet never gave up their chase and as they skirted along the wind-shielded Vietnamese coast, Caudrelier found his team’s lead cut to under 10nm.

But the 40-year-old and his crew of experienced French sailors mixed with rookie Chinese Cheng Ying Kit (‘Kit’) and Liu Xue (‘Black’) plus young Australian Jack Bouttell, stuck grimly to their game plan and slowly but surely stretched their lead once more as they entered the final day’s sailing.

An infuriating – for Caudrelier and his crew – lack of wind in the South China Sea kept the tension up into the small hours of Tuesday morning and once more the fleet led by Walker’s Azzam closed the gap a little but Dongfeng had come too far for too long to relinquish their advantage now.

At just past 0731 local time (2331 UTC), they crossed the finish on a glorious Sanya morning just after daybreak, some 45nm clear of second-placed Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing (Ian Walker/GBR) with Team Alvimedica (Charlie Enright/USA) 13.5nm further behind.

They are expected to scrap all the way to the finish with MAPFRE (Xabi Fernández/ESP) and Team Brunel (Bouwe Bekking/NED) hot on their heels.

Those boats are expected to finish within short order of each other later on Tuesday with Team SCA (Sam Davies/GBR) due to complete the leg later into the evening.

January 27, 2015. Dongfeng Race Team arrives in Sanya in first position, leader of Leg 3 after 23 days of sailing.  (Photo by Victor Fraile/Volvo Ocean Race)

January 27, 2015. Dongfeng Race Team arrives in Sanya in first position, leader of Leg 3 after 23 days of sailing. (Photo by Victor Fraile/Volvo Ocean Race)

 

Charlie by Sa​m Greenf​ield/Don​gfeng Ra​ce Team

Charlie by Sa​m Greenf​ield/Don​gfeng Ra​ce Team

Leg 3: Abu Dhabi to Sanya (4,670 nautical miles)
Days at sea: 6
Boat speed: 6.4 knots (3 hours average), 5 knots (15 minute average)
Position in fleet: Latest position reports show Dongfeng still holding onto the lead, managing to steal a couple of miles back on Brunel.
Distance to finish: 3, 480 nautical miles although Caudrelier suggests this could be the longest leg in terms of time!

At 0940 GMT Dongfeng had managed to steal a couple of miles back on Brunel. Tense onboard with winds very very light, just 3 knots at time of poll – and Brunel sailing now in better wind and on a higher angle.

Well it was easy to think that once the big gybe decision was made the other day it would be ‘plain sailing’ down a straight line in northerly winds to the Sri Lanka turning point on the course. Whilst the fleet has generally maintained the same direction, the local effects have been very significant with the distances between the boats yo-yoing back and forth since yesterday. And right now, in what looks like a tactical move, Brunel have decided to sail higher than the rest of the fleet through this light airs zone, on a more direct route to the waypoint – and in doing so have closed to just 2 miles behind Dongfeng, albeit separated by nearly 20 miles on the water now. Local effects or a clear tactical move to get closer to the coast of India, time will tell.

A Fastnet Race in distance to the southern point of India (650 miles) and a further 200 to Sri Lanka’s southern tip and the transition in to the Bay of Bengal. As Ian Walker on Azzam commented yesterday, the first boat there could get a big advantage. For now its anyone’s guess who will be there first, with the distances shrinking and stretching up to 15 miles every couple of watches. The light airs and attention it requires in terms of keeping the boats going at 100%, and the prospect of a very long leg, are started to tire the sailors – the first team to blink will be ejected out the back of the peloton. The separation with Brunel, whether accidental or a Dutch master plan, finally means we could see a split in the leading trio, with Abu Dhabi for now taking a similar course to the determined men of Dongfeng.

“The first part of the leg was clear – but now its getting complicated” commented skipper Caudrelier. Kit confirmed on a video call earlier that ‘the wind is not at all what is forecast, we’re sailing dead downwind when we should be reaching”. Caudrelier confirms “It might just come down to who is lucky on this leg”. It could come down to a roll of the weather and cloud dice this next 600 miles to the corner.

Its going to be a tense couple of days.

Thousands of miles away from home, Charles Caudrelier, writes a few words to reflect on the Charlie Hebdo atrocity which has shocked the world:

My name is Charles, sometimes I’m called Charlot but today I am Charlie.

It is the second time I’ve been at sea during a major terrorist attack.

The first time it was 11 September 2001.

At sea we are cut of off from the world without internet access, TV or radio and we are living a long way from these dramas.

Since yesterday I really don’t know what to think about these insane actions. Since the beginning of time we’ve been killing in the name of God, or Gods.

I’m not going to write a long essay on this, writing is not my thing, and certainly I don’t feel qualified on this subject.

But we are doing the Volvo Ocean Race, a race around the planet, crossing all the oceans and continents during 9 months.

If God exists, then he will have created our planet and he can be proud of his work, because its amazing, but he must also be embarrassed about us humans, incapable of living together on it.

Down Below on Team Dongfeng by Sam Greenfield/Team Dongfeng

Down Below on Team Dongfeng by Sam Greenfield/Team Dongfeng

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Dongfeng Crew Cross Equatorby  Yann Riou/Dongfeng Race Team

Dongfeng Crew Cross Equator by Yann Riou/Dongfeng Race Team

Chinese sailor Liu Xue (Black) crosses the Equator for the first time, aged 21

With the long term sporting mission of Dongfeng Race Team set to bring offshore sailing to China, a nation where 99% of the population don’t even know it’s a sport, it is moments like these when Chinese sailor Liu Xue (Black) crossed the Equator for the first time that should be documented and savored for years to come. The training process to get young sailors like Liu Xue and Chen Jin Hao to this point was (and still is) one of epic proportions. And as the project slowly gains recognition in China from media such as CCTV and China Daily, for this team, it’s only the beginning of what we hope will be the most widely followed Chinese sailing project in history.

Leg 2, Day 16

Boat speed: 13 knots as the fleet move into more solid westerly winds

Position in fleet: Lost a bit on Team Brunel last night but caught up today and now just 0.9 nautical miles behind them in third place

Distance to finish: Into the final third of this leg with less than 2,000nm to go

Two big milestones were passed recently for the Chinese team in the Volvo Ocean Race. Dongfeng Race Team returned to the northern hemisphere, resulting in Liu Xue (Black) crossing the Equator for the first time. “I will remember this moment forever, this is my pride, my honour. It’s something I will never forget, it’s very important to me to cross the Equator at sea during a race.” Liu Xue (Black) shared a special moment onboard with his mentor, French sailor, Pascal Bidégorry. The pair toasted the moment with a bottle of Baijiu, a sort of Chinese liqueur given to them by the team’s Platinum Partner Aeolus Tyres.

Dongfeng Race Team (Photo by Yann Riou / Dongfeng Race Team)

Dongfeng Race Team (Photo by Yann Riou / Dongfeng Race Team)

Image cr​edit: Ya​nn Riou ​/ Dongfe​ng Race ​Team

The team now have less than 2,000 nautical miles to go of the 6,125 nautical mile leg from Cape Town to Abu Dhabi but judging by the close racing we’ve seen in this leg, it’s not over until it’s over.

Every meter, every mile is critical for the determined sailors onboard Dongfeng. Racing has got so close that on the race tracker it would appear Dongfeng has disappeared off the screen completely, when, in fact, our competitor’s Team Brunel icon is sitting directly over the Dongfeng icon! That’s how close racing has been this week.

Image cr​edit: Ya​nn Riou ​/ Dongfe​ng Race ​Team

Weather wise looking ahead, in simplistic terms (and it rarely turns out simple), Dongfeng and the leading boats are sailing moderately fast in the westerly Monsoon winds right now, but they are going to have to traverse in the coming day or days a second Doldrums like area that spans a gap of almost 300 miles of their track. This could create a major park up and reshuffle of the entire remaining fleet. Out the other side they will sail in to moderate to strong north easterly winds that should last for days, but not give much option for any passing lanes or position changes, before what is likely to be another reshuffle with fickle winds once through the Straits of Hormuz and in to the Gulf for the final miles in to Abu Dhabi. Sounds simple, of course its not! All summarised perfectly in today’s blog from Onboard Reporter, Yann Riou here:

Four days. Four days that we’ve been locked together with our Dutch friends. Four days that we’ve been fighting for every meter of boat length. So when we lose a mile and a half in one night, it’s a bit hard to digest. So we try to put that in to perspective by reminding ourselves that there are still 2,000 miles to go.

And above all remember that we are learning so much [about how to make a VO65 go faster]. Because the best way to learn about boat performance is to do two-boat testing, two boats right next to each other. That’s what is done in just about every type of high performance sailing. That’s four straight days (and nights) of training we have just done. At different wind angles, strength and sail combinations…

« For sure the rhythm onboard would be different without a boat next to us. Its very tiring, but great learning » Eric Peron

This intensity has an impact on life onboard. Always trim, trim, trim (the sails). There is someone in front of the computer almost the whole time, talking to the helmsman [sharing performance data and the gains or losses, meter by meter, against the other boat]. It’s very positive, but very wearing!

Dongfeng Race Team (Photo by Yann Riou / Dongfeng Race Team)

Dongfeng Race Team (Photo by Yann Riou / Dongfeng Race Team)

Image cr​edit: Ya​nn Riou ​/ Dongfe​ng Race ​Team

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Charles Caudrelier and Team Dongfeng  takes 2nd place just minutes after Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing grabs first place in Leg 1 (Photo © Ainhoa Sanchez/Volvo Ocean Race)

Charles Caulderier Charles Caudrelier and Team Dongfeng takes 2nd place just minutes after Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing grabs first place in Leg 1 (Photo © Ainhoa Sanchez/Volvo Ocean Race)

 

Leg 1 Alicante to Cape Town: (6,487nm, although many more miles raced)
Finish position: 2nd, behind leg winner and pre-race favourites Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing
Time of finish: 15:22:48 UTC (12m 4s behind leg winner Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing)
Duration of leg: 25d 3h 22m
Distance sailed: 8,363nm
Best 24 hour run: Dongfeng 541nm at 1440 UTC 3.11.14 (provisional)

A tense wait in Cape Town as the final moments of Leg 1 played out and then the overriding emotion of pride as the determined men of Dongfeng crossed the finish line in 2nd. Exceeding expectations the Dongfeng crew shared their joy and emotion with loved ones and the shore team.

Charles Caudrelier and Team Dongfeng  takes 2nd place just minutes after Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing grabs first place in Leg 1 (Photo © Ainhoa Sanchez/Volvo Ocean Race)

Charles Caudrelier and Team Dongfeng takes 2nd place just minutes after Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing grabs first place in Leg 1 (Photo © Ainhoa Sanchez/Volvo Ocean Race)

Dockside
A proud mother discovering the sport of offshore sailing as her son Yang Jiru (Wolf) sails around the word representing China.

On the water
The proud members of the Dongfeng Race Team shore team watching the result of 10 months relentless hard work.

Onboard
A proud Skipper who has fought for 10 months and 25 days non-stop to become a respected contender in the Volvo Ocean Race.

November 5, 2014. Dongfeng Race Team Skipper, Charles Caudrelier, talks to the media after their arrival to Cape Town in second place for Leg 1. (Photo by Charlie Shoemaker/Volvo Ocean Race)

November 5, 2014. Dongfeng Race Team Skipper, Charles Caudrelier, talks to the media after their arrival to Cape Town in second place for Leg 1. (Photo by Charlie Shoemaker/Volvo Ocean Race)

A distant memory
It’s worth noting that it was 3 years ago today Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing dismasted 24 hours after the start of the Volvo Ocean Race. Today they won leg 1 after a 5 day battle with us.

Observing
And finally, watching from afar, a very small group of people who’s ambition is to bring offshore sailing to China.

Charles Caudrelier and Team Dongfeng  takes 2nd place just minutes after Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing grabs first place in Leg 1 (Photo © Ainhoa Sanchez/Volvo Ocean Race)

Charles Caudrelier and Team Dongfeng takes 2nd place just minutes after Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing grabs first place in Leg 1 (Photo © Ainhoa Sanchez/Volvo Ocean Race)

Best 24 hour run: Dongfeng 541nm at 1440 UTC 3.11.14 (provisional)

It was a close fight all the way to Volvo Ocean Race Leg 1 finish in Cape Town that saw the determined men of Dongfeng racing for China cross the finish line in second place at 15:22:48 UTC today 5th November, just 12 minutes and 4 seconds behind Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing.

From Dongfeng skipper, Charles Caudrelier: “As a team we might not have much experience in the Volvo Ocean Race but my men know how to fight and they fight for every 1 per cent. I have a great team around me and for leg 1 we are really happy,” said Charles. “We were not the favourites, we knew this, but I also knew we could do great things. I chose men that could fight.” In particular, the Dongfeng team includes a lot of solo sailors who are used to fighting for every metre in the very tough Figaro event in France – also a One Design class like the Volvo Ocean 65 – and are used to doing many different jobs onboard. A key factor in the crew selection to build a team that could support and train the Chinese sailors in the best way possible.

November 5, 2014. Dongfeng Race Team arrive in Cape Town in second place for Leg 1; Jiru Yang, aka Wolf talks to Media in the pontoon (Photo © Sam Greenfield/Volvo Ocean Race)

November 5, 2014. Dongfeng Race Team arrive in Cape Town in second place for Leg 1; Jiru Yang, aka Wolf talks to Media in the pontoon (Photo © Sam Greenfield/Volvo Ocean Race)

“You know for the Chinese guys it’s been the toughest race. They have never done proper offshore racing before; we all work together and without them we wouldn’t be here – it’s awesome what they’ve done. I’m proud of them and they can be proud of themselves; they are ready to help no matter what – they’re two fantastic guys.

November 5, 2014. Dongfeng Race Team arrive in Cape Town in second place for Leg 1; Jiru Yang, aka Wolf meets his mother. (Photo © Sam Greenfield/Volvo Ocean Race)

November 5, 2014. Dongfeng Race Team arrive in Cape Town in second place for Leg 1; Jiru Yang, aka Wolf meets his mother. (Photo © Sam Greenfield/Volvo Ocean Race)

“There is for sure a bit of frustration right at the finish, we thought we could come back. Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing has done a fantastic race and deserve this. We were not the favourite but we have a story to tell with the Chinese sailors and so if we can do both – teach them and have a good result – we are very proud of that. It has been a fight – I think the race is going to be very, very hard!

“It’s only the first leg and there are nine more to go. And we will have to start again with other Chinese guys onboard in the next legs – this is a key part of this project that we have embraced. But I am really happy we started like this and I feel we deserve it. It was not always easy in the build up to the start travelling from China to Europe then to the USA but it was necessary and the Chinese guys have been though a lot of training and they deserve this.

“We have no regrets – we had a few problems and we carried on, I’m proud of my men.”

Emotional and jubilant scenes erupted on the dockside of the Race Village in Cape Town as the crowds of family, friends and public welcomed the boats. For Chinese sailors Jiru Yang (Wolf) and Chen Jinhao (Horace), it was there first ever Volvo Ocean Race leg finish: “Although we had something unexpected happening during the leg, we managed to work it out instead of panicking,” said Wolf. “I think we all did a really good job in the past 25 days, and great teamwork for sure. I’m really proud to be one of the Chinese sailors onboard for the first leg and really proud to be a family member of this team.”

Before the start of Leg 1, Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing was the favourite to win and Ian Walker’s crew have proved themselves worthy of this status, rarely dropping out of the top spots. For Dongfeng, the expectations were different – ‘underdogs’, ‘wild card’ were terms used by some, but this team had a quiet confidence, preferring their performance on the racecourse to do the talking. They have overcome breakages and challenges and tough relentless competition from more experienced Volvo Ocean Race teams, and in doing so have demonstrated amazing seamanship, rapid practical repair skills, tactical know-how and the ability to sail the boat fast particularly off the wind (ie wind from behind). To that end they have proved themselves to be contenders..

“I am a proud and relieved man today,” said Dongfeng Race Team Project Director, Bruno Dubois. “The guys have done an incredible job on this first leg supported by our great partners – Dongfeng Trucks who bought us ‘east wind’, Aeolus Tyres who were the ‘guardian of the wind’ and the City of Shiyan!” The team is backed principally by Chinese sponsors – Dongfeng Trucks (Title Partner), Dongfeng meaning ‘east wind’, Aeolus Tyres, Aeolus meaning ‘Guardian of the wind’ and the City of Shiyan (Platinum Partners). Zhang Qian, from Dongfeng Commercial Vehicles and Project Director of this Volvo Ocean Race campaign sent this message to the team: “Since the moment you set sail from Alicante, Spain, my heart has been sailing with you. Dongfeng arrived in Cape Town tenaciously, dealing with challenging conditions. Congratulations on your performance.”

It was only a year ago that Wolf and Horace dreamed of joining the crew of Dongfeng, going through the tough selection trials and then 10 months of rigorous training. A dream is one thing, the reality another: “It’s not exactly what I imagined it would be. I watched videos and, yes, I trained but realistically life onboard was not at the forefront of my mind and actually it’s the most difficult part, living onboard is so hard. I saw that you had to fight the waves and mother nature but I didn’t realise you had to fight for survival onboard everyday.”

The new Volvo Ocean 65 One Design class – same hull, mast, sails, etc – have made this race closer than anyone could have imagined before the start. Dongfeng nosed into the lead five days out from Alicante and the sparring with Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing began. On the 18th October (a week into the race) Dongfeng broke their rudder in a collision with an unidentified object. Almost stationary for 2 hours whilst they completely replaced the broken rudder in pitch darkness with the spare, and 12 hours later they retook the lead.

Abu Dhabi regained the advantage after passing the Cape Verde Island and at the Equator Dongfeng had dropped to fourth place after one of the worst crossings of the Doldrums that the guys had ever had. As the fleet pushed south to get to the Roaring 40s and the stronger breeze, Dongfeng slowly reeled in the leaders and as the boats pointed their bows to the east (and Cape Town) five days ago, Dongfeng Race Team were back in second. They pushed hard – clocking up the best 24 hour run of the race to date at 541nm on the 3rd November – but Abu Dhabi held them off. Two days ago Dongfeng had to deal with more damage when the pad eye holding the sheet block for the control lines for the biggest sails onboard broke suddenly, with the released loads wiping out the pushpit, stanchions and part of the starboard wheel. In half an hour they were back up to speed as they continued to make repairs, hooning along at 20-25 knots but Abu Dhabi held on to their slender lead, covering Dongfeng’s every attempt to pass in the final phase of the leg.

Charles Caudrelier, Pascal Bidegorry, Chen Jinhao (Horace), Kevin Escoffier, Thomas Rouxel, Jiru Yang (Wolf), Martin Stromberg, Eric Peron and OnBoard Reporter, Yann Riou, can be very proud men today.

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November 05, 2014. Dongfeng Race Team on stage for the Prize Giving in Cape Town after arriving second.  (Photo © Ainhoa Sanchez/Volvo Ocean Race)

November 05, 2014. Dongfeng Race Team on stage for the Prize Giving in Cape Town after arriving second. (Photo © Ainhoa Sanchez/Volvo Ocean Race)

November 05, 2014. Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing crosses the finish line winning Leg 1 from Alicante to Cape Town after 25 days of sailing.  (Photo copyright Ainhoa Sanchez/Volvo Ocean Race )

November 05, 2014. Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing crosses the finish line winning Leg 1 from Alicante to Cape Town after 25 days of sailing. (Photo copyright Ainhoa Sanchez/Volvo Ocean Race )

Leg 1
DTL

(NM)

GAIN/LOSS

(NM)

DTF

(NM)

Speed

(kt)

ADOR
ADOR FIN – 025d 03h 10m 44s
DFRT
DFRT FIN – 025d 03h 22m 48s
TBRU
TBRU 0 61 45.9 15
VEST
VEST 172.9 52 218.7 7
ALVI
ALVI 306 59 351.8 15
MAPF
MAPF 395 62 440.9 20
SCA1
SCA1 424.4 60 470.2 19

–  Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing win by just 12 minutes

– Dongfeng Race Team chase Azzam to the finish

– Follow the race all the way on our app 

ALICANTE, Spain, Nov 5 – Ian Walker (GBR) and his Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing crew have barely snatched a wink of sleep for nearly 48 hours, but they will surely be celebrating deep into the night after an epic first leg victory in the Volvo Ocean Race on Wednesday.

November 5, 2014. Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing celebrate after crossing the finish line in Cape Town as the winners of  Leg 1 (Photo copyright Charlie Shoemaker/Volvo Ocean Race)

November 5, 2014. Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing celebrate after crossing the finish line in Cape Town as the winners of Leg 1 (Photo © Charlie Shoemaker/Volvo Ocean Race)

There have been many close finishes in the 41-year history of the event, but few will have been quite so tense for the victors, who have been feeling the hot breath of Dongfeng Race Team (Charles Caudrelier/FRA) down their necks for the best part of a week in the 6,487-nautical mile (nm) stage.

Even with the finish under Table Mountain in Cape Town in sight 2nm away, Walker could not relax, with wind in perilously short supply and the Chinese boat able to close again before Azzam finally claimed the hardest fought of victories.

The crossed the line at 1510 UTC, just 12 minutes before Dongfeng, after 25 days, three hours and 10 minutes of sailing.

The win is a personal triumph for 44-year-old Walker. The Briton was forced to motor miserably back into Alicante on the first night of the opening leg in 2011-12 after a Mediterranean storm dismasted his boat.

This time, he and the crew have barely made an error since setting out with the rest of the fleet on October 11 from Alicante, and their Volvo Ocean 65 has withstood everything that the Med and the Atlantic could throw at them.

But they still could not shake off Caudrelier’s crew, who tried all manner of manoeuvres, some under the cover of darkness, to get the better of the front-runners.

Walker, red-eyed after sleep deprivation for so long, was finally able to celebrate surely one of the sweetest wins of a career, which also includes two Olympic silver medals.

November 05, 2014. Skipper Ian Walker, Adil Khalid and Luke Parkinson on stage for the prize giving. Abu Dhabi was first of Leg 1 from Alicante to Cape Town.  ( Photo © Ainhoa Sanchez/Volvo Ocean Race)

November 05, 2014. Skipper Ian Walker, Adil Khalid and Luke Parkinson on stage for the prize giving. Abu Dhabi was first of Leg 1 from Alicante to Cape Town. (Photo © Ainhoa Sanchez/Volvo Ocean Race)

“It’s quite emotional actually,” Walker told Race HQ, minutes after crossing the line.

“I didn’t think I would be – but that last couple of hours, they threw everything at us,” he smiled, “We’ve had people ride on our heels for the last 10 days or so. I must congratulate Dongfeng, an absolutely fantastic performance.”

Ian Walker greets Charles Caudrelier as Team Dongfeng docks and takes 2nd place just minutes after Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing grabs first place in Leg 1 (Photo © Ainhoa Sanchez/Volvo Ocean Race)

Ian Walker greets Charles Caudrelier as Team Dongfeng docks and takes 2nd place just minutes after Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing grabs first place in Leg 1 (Photo © Ainhoa Sanchez/Volvo Ocean Race)

In contrast, Caudrelier looked like he had thoroughly enjoyed every minute of the chase and the opportunity to prove a point to those who doubted that his crew, that included two Chinese rookies, could seriously compete at the front of the fleet.

Dongfeng Race Team’s second place was all the more remarkable since twice their progress was slowed through damage to the boat; first through a smashed rudder and then through a shattered padeye, which caused a domino-effect of damage including a broken wheel.

Charles Caudrelier and Team Dongfeng  takes 2nd place just minutes after Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing grabs first place in Leg 1 (Photo © Ainhoa Sanchez/Volvo Ocean Race)

Charles Caudrelier and Team Dongfeng takes 2nd place just minutes after Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing grabs first place in Leg 1 (Photo © Ainhoa Sanchez/Volvo Ocean Race)

Repeatedly over the past week, they have nibbled away at Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing’s lead, closing to within three nm shortly after daybreak on Wednesday.

But Walker and his team had sailed too well for too long to give victory away after such a struggle, and the crowd packing Cape Town’s famous V&A Waterfront gave them a reception they surely will never forget.

1st Place finish podium with Abu Dhabi Ocean  Racing Team led by Ian Walker (Photo by Ian Roman/Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing)

1st Place finish podium with Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing Team led by Ian Walker (Photo by Ian Roman/Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing)

For the rest of the fleet, it’s now a battle for the minor places and equally hard-won points. Team Brunel (Bouwe Bekking/NED) should take third spot later on Wednesday with Team Vestas Wind (Chris Nicholson/AUS) looking good for fourth.

Team Alvimedica (Charlie Enright/USA) are expected to be too far ahead to be caught in fifth, but MAPFRE (Iker Martínez/ESP) and Team SCA (Sam Davies/GBR) could yet have a big tussle for sixth and seventh spots before their expected arrival in Cape Town on Friday.

November 05, 2014. Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing leads at the end of Leg 1 on the approach of Cape Town finish line.  (Photo by Ainhoa Sanchez/Volvo Ocean Race)

November 05, 2014. Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing leads at the end of Leg 1 on the approach of Cape Town finish line. (Photo by Ainhoa Sanchez/Volvo Ocean Race)

 

October 4, 2014. Team Alvimedica wins the In-Port Race in Alicante.

Young Guns from October 4, 2014. Team Alvimedica wins the In-Port Race in Alicante, Spain. Launching the start of the Volvo Ocean Race 2014-15 (Photo by Ainhoa Sanchez/Volvo Ocean Race)

 

–      American newcomer leaves experienced rivals in wake

–       Catch all the latest Volvo Ocean Race action here

–       And don’t forget to play our great new Official Race Game

ALICANTE, Spain, Oct 4 – Charlie Enright’s smile said it all as he led his young Team Alvimedica crew to victory in the opening skirmish of the Volvo Ocean Race 2014-15 on Saturday.

There’s a long, long way to go and the Alicante in-port race success does not even count towards the offshore overall trophy apart from as a tie-breaker in the case of teams finishing level on points.

But as a confidence-builder for the Turkish/American team, you could hardly beat victory under bright blue skies and 14-knot winds in front of thousands of fans who thronged the Alicante harbour.

Enright was impressively poised afterwards. “Surprised that we’re able to do well? Not that much. We’ve had some good practice, the guys have been working really hard on maneuvres and we’re happy with the win,” he said.

“We haven’t done anything that counts for the overall trophy yet, but it’s a confidence builder, it gives us the feeling that we can do well again.”

Enright (USA), 30, and his right-hand man Mark Towill (USA) know all about fairytale starts after hatching a dream to one day compete in offshore racing’s leading event on the film set of the Disney movie, Morning Light, some seven years ago.

The realisation of that ambition took a lot of determination and the hammering on doors of countless sponsors before Turkish surgical instrument manufacturer Alvimedica CEO Cem Bozkurt finally saw potential in them and supported their campaign.

On the face of Saturday’s surprise result, that confidence could be richly repaid, although it’s obviously very early days.

Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing, winners of the 2011 Alicante in-port race, were denied a repeat triumph by a mere five seconds in just over 14 knots of wind with Spanish entrants MAPFRE third a further 25 seconds adrift.

Generally, the racing could barely have been tighter in almost perfect conditions for sailing and the lead changed hands several times after a storming start with China’s Dongfeng Race Team grabbing the early initiative.

Team Brunel (NED) eventually pipped them for fourth spot with Team SCA’s all-women crew (SWE) leaving Team Vestas Wind (DEN) comfortably behind to take sixth.

Leg 1 from Alicante to Cape Town begins next Saturday. In all, the boats will cover 38,739 nautical miles over nine months before the adventure finishes in Gothenburg, Sweden on June 27, 2015. They will visit 11 ports in all, including a pit-stop in The Hague.

Alicante in-port race results:

1. Team Alvimedica (Turkey/USA) 14:52:02 – 1pt

2. Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing 14:52:07 – 2pts

3. MAPFRE (Spain) 14:52:27 – 3pts

4. Team Brunel (The Netherlands) 14:52:48 – 4pts

5. Dongfeng Race Team (China) 14:53:14 – 5pts

6. Team SCA (Sweden) 14:53:51  – 6pts

7. Team Vestas Wind (Denmark) 14:55:24 – 7pts

Fireworks go off in the city of Lisbon, as Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing, skippered by Ian Walker from the UK, finish first on leg 7, from Miami, USA to Lisbon, Portugal, during the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12. (Photo by Paul Todd/ Volvo Ocean Race)

Fireworks go off in the city of Lisbon, as Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing, skippered by Ian Walker from the UK, finish first on leg 7, from Miami, USA to Lisbon, Portugal, during the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12. (Photo by Paul Todd/ Volvo Ocean Race)

Abu Dhabi shrugged off seven months of frustration to seal their first offshore victory in a nerve-jarring transatlantic leg from Miami to Lisbon, while Groupama’s second place finish — five and a half minutes behind after more than 3,500 nautical miles racing — was enough to take them top of the leaderboard in place of long-term leaders Telefonica.

Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing during leg 7 of the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12, from Miami, USA to Lisbon, Portugal. (Photo by Nick Dana/Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing/Volvo Ocean Race)

Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing during leg 7 of the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12, from Miami, USA to Lisbon, Portugal. (Photo by Credit: Nick Dana/Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing/Volvo Ocean Race)

Groupama spent days snapping at the heels of the Emirati team and were within a mile of their rivals as they headed up the River Tagus towards the finish line.

Ian Walker’s team defended resolutely, however, matching their rivals gybe for gybe to ensure their first podium finish on an offshore leg would also be their first win, and spark wild celebrations lit up by a booming firework display.

For Groupama, the consolation prize came soon enough, as Telefónica’s finish in fourth place — behind PUMA Ocean Racing powered by BERG in the third podium slot and just ahead of CAMPER with Emirates Team New Zealand — meant the French team climb above them.

Abu Dhabi, who finished at 21:23:54 UTC, received 30 points for victory, with Groupama netting 25 after their finish at 21:29:21. PUMA took 20 points, Telefonica 15 and CAMPER 10.

Team Sanya finished sixth to pick up five points.

Groupama, skippered by Franck Cammas, now lead Telefónica by three points overall, with the Spanish team dropping off the lead for the first time since their victory on Leg 1 from Alicante to Cape Town back in November.

Four teams remain separated by just 21 points, making it the closest contest in the 39-year history of the Volvo Ocean Race with just two offshore legs and three in-port races still to come.

The arrival in Lisbon represented a homecoming for Abu Dhabi, who had a training base in nearby Cascais during the build-up to the race.

“It’s incredible — what a welcome,” said Walker, before he and Emirati crew member Adil Khalid were chucked into the water by their team mates.

“Do you think you can make the last 10 miles of a race any harder than that?

“It’s one of the most amazing experiences of my sailing career, that’s for sure. Mentally, certainly I’m exhausted. It’s just such a relief.”

Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing, skippered by Ian Walker from the UK celebrate finishing first on leg 7, from Miami, USA to Lisbon, Portugal, during the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12. (Photo by  IAN ROMAN/Volvo Ocean Race)

Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing, skippered by Ian Walker from the UK celebrate finishing first on leg 7, from Miami, USA to Lisbon, Portugal, during the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12. (Photo by IAN ROMAN/Volvo Ocean Race)

Abu Dhabi also visited Lisbon in much less happy circumstances during Leg 1, after a dismasting within the first few hours ultimately forced them to ship the boat from Lisbon to Cape Town.

While they have notched up three victories in in-port races, and have a strong chance of winning the series, this is the first time they have really been able to shine in an offshore leg.

First Groupama and then Telefónica enjoyed the lead for long spells on a leg that started out looking like a fast, direct sprint across the Atlantic before the effects of Tropical Storm Alberto altered things drastically.

One by one, the boats were forced to head ever further north towards the ice exclusion zone.

Abu Dhabi moved into the lead on Day 6 and after briefly surrendering it to CAMPER they were back ahead the following day.

Two days later they were clear, though skipper Ian Walker warned repeatedly that a light-air zone inside the final 300 nautical miles would see the fleet compress.

That’s exactly how it turned out, with Abu Dhabi forced to scrap every step of the way to an emotional victory at the team’s second home.

“It came down to the wire, and we certainly had our ups and downs, but we are very happy,” said Groupama skipper Franck Cammas. “it was a good operation for us!”

Third place for PUMA kept them in contention for the overall lead, 12 points behind new leaders Groupama.

“This is a great result,” said the team’s American skipper Ken Read. “There’s still a lot of points on the board and to be on the podium is a big deal for us.”

Crown Prince Felipe of Spain visits Team Telefonica in the Lisbon Race Village, during the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12. (Photo by IAN ROMAN/Volvo Ocean Race)

Crown Prince Felipe of Spain visits Team Telefonica in the Lisbon Race Village, during the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12. (Photo by IAN ROMAN/Volvo Ocean Race)

The battle between Telefónica and CAMPER for fourth and fifth came down to a slow-motion tussle over an excruciating final few miles, with no breeze and the current against them.

Telefónica eventually finished with an advantage of 102 seconds and less than a boat length for a five-point boost that could yet prove crucial.

The action resumes with the In-Port Race on June 9, followed by the start of Leg 8 to Lorient the following day.

Leg 7 results:

1. Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing – 11d, 04h, 23m, 54s

2. Groupama sailing team – 11d, 04h, 29m, 21s

3. PUMA Ocean Racing powered by BERG – 11d, 06h, 26m, 52s

4. Team Telefónica – 11d, 08h, 28m, 27s

5. CAMPER with Emirates Team New Zealand – 11d, 08h, 30m, 09s

6. Team Sanya – 11d, 08h, 44m, 25s

Overall        Leg 7    Total
1            Groupama sailing team    25    183
2            Team Telefónica    15    180
3            PUMA Ocean Racing by BERG    20    171
4            CAMPER with Emirates Team NZ    10    162
5            Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing    30    104
6            Team Sanya    5    32