Ya​nn Riou​ Dongfen​g Race T​eam

Charles Caudrelier deep in thought (Photo by Yann Riou / Dongfeng Race Team

 200 miles to go. After 9 months and nearly 40,000 miles
Dongfeng slenderest of leads over main rivals Brunel and Mapfre, but seems like it will not mean much this evening.

Caudrelier: “For us its easy to go from 3rd place to 5th place (overall), and also to come back to second. Everything can happen still”

The podium of the Volvo Ocean Race might just come down to a total lottery tonight as wind forecasts predict a difficult transition as Charles Caudrelier describes “from the current strong southerly winds that have carried Dongfeng up the North Sea, to some light easterly winds that will should get us to the finish line. Its going to be stressful”.In between potentially little or no wind at all – during the early evening tonight in theory. The battleground will probably be between Hanstholm and Skagen, the two towns with a bay between them, that mark the northern tip of Denmark. But even now the compression is starting, from Yanndirect this morning “Still coming back from behind. Less than 4 miles, now. Nothing we can do about it. Not a nice feeling”. More often than not in ocean racing, the rich get richer – but this time its not going to work like that. The guys (and girls) behind are going to sail on in pressure as the boats in front that worked so hard to grind out their leads, will stop in the transition zone between the old and new winds.The warm front moving from the UK east, that has been chasing the fleet since they left, is going to slow down and stall before it gets to them, at least at surface level. Higher up in the atmosphere its forecast to continue east – this differential between up high and at the surface, will provide the conditions for a new low to form, bringing new winds – but the transition could be long – and in the meantime somehow the boats have to get from the old to the new. This in effect should allow almost all, if not all, the backmarkers to sail straight to the front, with the leaders helpless.

It will be tragic if the entire race comes down to luck, but then this is part of ocean racing. Since Dong Feng means ’winds from the east bringing freshness and energy’ and Aeolus being the Guardian of the Winds – on land we can only hope and pray to whatever Gods we believe in, that luck will be on our side, and that we will get the podium finish we deserve!

You can follow our story and interact with the team on all social media channels and our official website:Facebook: Click here
Twitter: Click here
Instagram: Click here
Weibo: Click here
WeChat: Click here
Youtube: Click here
YouKu: Click here
Official website: Click here
June 11, 2015. Team SCA wins Leg 8 from Lisbon to Lorient (Photo by Ricardo Pinto / Volvo Ocean Race)

June 11, 2015. Team SCA wins Leg 8 from Lisbon to Lorient (Photo by Ricardo Pinto / Volvo Ocean Race)

Skipper Sam Davies (GBR) and her Team SCA crew struck a resounding blow for women’s offshore sailing in the early hours of Thursday morning when they gloriously clinched Leg 8 of the Volvo Ocean Race

June 11, 2015. Team SCA wins Leg 8 from Lisbon to Lorient (Photo by Ricardo Pinto / Volvo Ocean Race)

June 11, 2015. Team SCA wins Leg 8 from Lisbon to Lorient (Photo by Ricardo Pinto / Volvo Ocean Race)

Leg 8
DTL

(NM)

GAIN/LOSS

(NM)

DTF

(NM)

Speed

(kt)

SCA1
SCA1 FIN – 03d 13h 11m 11s
VEST
VEST FIN – 03d 13h 59m 38s
ADOR
ADOR 0.3 10.9 3 11.1
MAPF
MAPF 0.8 11.3 4 11.7
TBRU
TBRU 1.8 11.5 5 12.4
ALVI
ALVI 2.3 11.7 5 12.9
DFRT
DFRT 5.5 11.7 8 13.2

Latest positions may be downloaded
from the race dashboard hereº MAPFRE given 2-point penalty Leg 5
Dongfeng Race Team, Team SCA & MAPFRE penalised Leg 7

– A resounding blow for women’s offshore sailing
– Team Vestas Wind bounce back for second place
– Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing nearing overall trophy win

June 11, 2015. Team SCA wins Leg 8 from Lisbon to Lorient (Photo by Ricardo Pinto / Volvo Ocean Race)

June 11, 2015. Team SCA wins Leg 8 from Lisbon to Lorient (Photo by Ricardo Pinto / Volvo Ocean Race)

LORIENT, France, June 11 – Skipper Sam Davies (GBR) and her Team SCA crew struck a resounding blow for women’s offshore sailing in the early hours of Thursday morning when they gloriously clinched Leg 8 of the Volvo Ocean Race.

The comfortable victory was the first leg win in offshore sailing’s toughest challenge since Tracy Edwards’ Maidenclinched two stage wins in Class D of the 1989-90 race, won overall by Sir Peter Blake’s famous Steinlager2.

At least as satisfying for the first all-women’s crew to enter the race in 12 years will be the opportunity to silence critics who suggested that they were looking outclassed in the current 12th edition by their experienced male rivals.

True, the Swedish entry had yet to win a podium place until now, but the crew has clearly improved leg after leg and many observers felt that a breakthrough performance was just around the corner.

The win was certainly no fluke in an upwind leg that tested seamanship to the full with an often heinous sea state and strong winds virtually throughout.

June 11, 2015. Team SCA wins Leg 8 from Lisbon to Lorient. (Photo by Ricardo Pinto / Volvo Ocean Race)

June 11, 2015. Team SCA wins Leg 8 from Lisbon to Lorient. (Photo by Ricardo Pinto / Volvo Ocean Race)

They grabbed the 647-nautical mile leg from Lisbon by the scruff of the neck on Monday, and strengthened that grip on Tuesday after taking an offshore course while most of their rivals hugged the Spanish and French coast approaching the Bay of Biscay.

It took them three days 13 hours 11 minutes and 11 seconds to grab their share of Race history.

“Thanks to everybody for all your support. It’s not really sunk in yet,” said a jubilant Davies. “It probably won’t hit us until we hit the dock and we see there aren’t any other boats there.

“It’s a reward for all the hard work we have done. It’s a great confidence booster. It’s going to be huge for us. We’ve had a mountain to climb to get here.”

June 11, 2015. Team Vestas Wind arrives in second position for Leg 8 from Lisbon to Lorient (Photo by Ricardo Pinto / Volvo Ocean Race)

June 11, 2015. Team Vestas Wind arrives in second position for Leg 8 from Lisbon to Lorient (Photo by Ricardo Pinto / Volvo Ocean Race)

Behind them, another fairy-tale was unfolding as Team Vestas Wind (Chris Nicholson/AUS) closed to a remarkable second-placed finish in their return to the race after six months out following a collision with an Indian Ocean reef on November 29 during Leg 2.

Nicholson had every reason for the huge smile on his face as he approached the port of Lorient following a near perfect race from Lisbon starting on Sunday.

He had simply hoped that his boat could negotiate the leg without mishap and be competitive – a high podium finish is almost beyond his wildest dreams.

June 11, 2015. Team Vestas Wind arrives in second position for Leg 8 from Lisbon to Lorient (Photo by Ricardo Pinto / Volvo Ocean Race)

June 11, 2015. Team Vestas Wind arrives in second position for Leg 8 from Lisbon to Lorient (Photo by Ricardo Pinto / Volvo Ocean Race)

“It’s a very special moment,” said the team’s Onboard Reporter, Brian Carlin (IRL), simply.

Astern of the leading pair, third-placed Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing (Ian Walker/GBR) were nearing an ever bigger prize than the handsome silver leg trophy claimed by Team SCA.

They needed simply to finish ahead of their nearest overall pursuers in the standings,Team Brunel (Bouwe Bekking/NED) and Dongfeng Race Team (Charles Caudrelier/FRA), with a boat in between, to be all but be sure of winning the 12th edition of the Volvo Ocean Race.

As Team SCA passed the finish at 0211 UTC/0411 local time on Thursday, that prospect looked very much on with MAPFRE (Xabi Fernández/ESP) in fourth, Team Brunel fifth, and Team Alvimedica (Charlie Enright/USA) keeping Dongfeng Race Team at bay in the fight for sixth.

The boats will have a short maintenance period before Sunday’s SCA In-Port Race here in Lorient, before the fleet set sail for Gothenburg via a much-awaited pit-stop in The Hague, on Tuesday, June 16.

It promises to be a period of considerable celebration for at least three crews of very, very happy sailors.

June 11, 2015. Team SCA wins Leg 8 from Lisbon to Lorient (Photo by Ricardo Pinto / Volvo Ocean Race)

June 11, 2015. Team SCA wins Leg 8 from Lisbon to Lorient (Photo by Ricardo Pinto / Volvo Ocean Race)

May 27, 2015. Team Brunel arrives to Lisbon in first position after Leg 7 from Newport. (Photo by Ricardo Pinto / Volvo Ocean Race)

May 27, 2015. Team Brunel arrives to Lisbon in first position after Leg 7 from Newport. (Photo by Ricardo Pinto / Volvo Ocean Race)

 

Team Brunel (Bouwe Bekking/NED) completed a triumphant Leg 7 early on Wednesday to bolster their hopes of finishing with a podium place in the Volvo Ocean Race and also keep alive their hopes of overall victory

. MAPFRE arrives to Lisbon in second position after Leg 7 from Newport. MAPFRE Skipper Iker Martinez and Team Brunel Skipper Bouwe Bekking congratulate each other on stage. (Photo by Ricardo Pinto / Volvo Ocean Race )

May 27, 2015. MAPFRE arrives to Lisbon in second position after Leg 7 from Newport. MAPFRE Skipper Iker Martinez and Team Brunel Skipper Bouwe Bekking congratulate each other on stage. (Photo by Ricardo Pinto / Volvo Ocean Race )

Leg 7
DTL

(NM)

GAIN/LOSS

(NM)

DTF

(NM)

Speed

(kt)

TBRU
TBRU FIN – 09d 11h 09m 49s
MAPF
MAPF FIN – 09d 11h 31m 39s
ALVI
ALVI FIN – 09d 12h 50m 49s
DFRT
DFRT FIN – 09d 12h 51m 44s
ADOR
ADOR FIN – 09d 13h 24m 34s
SCA1
SCA1 FIN – 09d 15h 32m 38s
VEST
VEST Did Not Start

Latest positions may be downloaded
from the race dashboard here º MAPFRE given two-point penalty – read more

– Team Brunel edge home ahead in transatlantic leg
– MAPFRE chase them all the way into Lisbon
– Team Alvimedica beat Dongfeng in thrilling dogfight
– Team Vestas Wind are reunited with rest of the fleet

Team Brunel arrives to Lisbon in first position after Leg 7 from Newport. (Photo by Ricardo Pinto / Volvo Ocean Race)

May 27, 2015. Team Brunel arrives to Lisbon in first position after Leg 7 from Newport. (Photo by Ricardo Pinto / Volvo Ocean Race)

LISBON, Portugal, May 27 – Team Brunel (Bouwe Bekking/NED) completed a triumphant Leg 7 early on Wednesday to bolster their hopes of finishing with a podium place in the Volvo Ocean Race and also keep alive the possibility of overall victory.

Team Brunel arrives to Lisbon in first position after Leg 7 from Newport. (Ricardo Pinto / Volvo Ocean Race)

May 27, 2015. Team Brunel arrives to Lisbon in first position after Leg 7 from Newport. (Ricardo Pinto / Volvo Ocean Race)

The Dutch boat sailed a near faultless transatlantic stage, edging MAPFRE (Iker Martínez/ESP) into second, just under 22 minutes behind.

Behind them, Team Alvimedica (Charlie Enright/USA) edged out long-time leg leaders, Dongfeng Race Team (Charles Caudrelier/FRA), after an enthralling dogfight over the final miles.

The Chinese-backed boat was caught by Enright’s crew in the early hours of Wednesday, but battled their way back and looked sure to overtake them again before a botched tack ruined their chances.

Leg 7 arrivals in Lisbon; Team Alvimedica and Dongfeng Race Team take the fight right to the finish line. (Photo by  Ainhoa Sanchez / Volvo Ocean Race)

May 27, 2015. Leg 7 arrivals in Lisbon; Team Alvimedica and Dongfeng Race Team take the fight right to the finish line. (Photo by Ainhoa Sanchez / Volvo Ocean Race)

They lost out by just 55 seconds after nearly nine days and 13 hours of sailing across 2,800 nautical miles (nm).

With overall leaders Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing (Ian Walker/GBR) finishing fifth ahead of Team SCA (Sam Davies/GBR), the overall race standings are left finely poised.

The Emirati crew now have a five-point lead over Dongfeng Race Team with two short legs to sail, while Team Brunel are a point further adrift of Charles Caudrelier’s crew.

Leg 7 arrivals in Lisbon; MAPFRE come in to Lisbon in second place. (Photo by Ainhoa Sanchez / Volvo Ocean Race)

May 27, 2015. Leg 7 arrivals in Lisbon; MAPFRE come in to Lisbon in second place. (Photo by Ainhoa Sanchez / Volvo Ocean Race)

Caudrelier made no attempt to hide his disappointment after leading the leg for so long and seeing a podium place disappear in the final miles.

“I’m feeling very bad, very upset and very sad,” he summed up. “We deserved better, but I guess that’s life.

“Most of all, I’m upset with myself because my crew did a great job and I made a huge mistake – and I don’t accept mistakes. We really missed a chance in this leg with Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing finishing fifth.”

Few sailors in the fleet will savour a win over one of the race’s trademark legs more than Team Brunel’s 51-year-old skipper, Bouwe Bekking, in his record-equalling seventh appearance.

 Team Brunel arrives to Lisbon in first position after Leg 7 from Newport. (Photo by Ricardo Pinto / Volvo Ocean Race )

May 27, 2015. Team Brunel arrives to Lisbon in first position after Leg 7 from Newport. (Photo by Ricardo Pinto / Volvo Ocean Race )

He has certainly experienced the ups and downs of racing across the Atlantic. Few will forget the agonising position he faced in 2006 before he was finally forced to abandon his sinking movistar boat during the same stage of that Volvo Ocean Race.

Bekking insisted last week that he had not lost ‘a single night’s sleep’ over the incident and the confident way that Team Brunel sailed the leg would bear that out.

Team Brunel were harried all the way over the past 24 hours by both MAPFRE and Dongfeng Race Team, especially over the final few miles when the breeze dropped to almost zero in the Tagus River as they approached the Lisbon finish.

“We sailed a tremendous leg but just at the end when there was no wind, it was getting a bit gnarly,” said Bekking. “But we pulled it off.”

The victory was achieved with two newcomers on board, Adam Minoprio (NZL) and Timo Hagoort (NED), the latter replacing the injured Gerd-Jan Poortman (NED).

“It was good to have those young guys on board, they did a fantastic job,” added Bekking.

Team SCA crossed the line, some four hours and 22 minutes behind Team Brunel (see panel above), after an action-packed transatlantic leg in which they sailed within the pack for much of the nine days and at one stage threatened a podium finish after taking a bold strategic choice around the Azores High.

May 27, 2015. Leg 7 to Lisbon onboard Team SCA. Day 10. The team sit 8 miles out from the finish line in Lisbon with little to no wind.

May 27, 2015. Leg 7 to Lisbon onboard Team SCA. Day 10. The team sit 8 miles out from the finish line in Lisbon with little to no wind. (Photo by Anna-Lena Elled / Team SCA / Volvo Ocean Race )

The final two stages, to Lorient (France) and then Gothenburg (Sweden) via a pit-stop in The Hague (Netherlands), will once again be contested by seven boats.

Team Vestas Wind (Chris Nicholson/AUS) rejoin the fleet for the first time since November 29 when the boat was grounded on a reef in the Indian Ocean.

After a four-month rebuild in the Persico boatyard in Bergamo, Italy, the boat was transported by sea and road to Lisbon, arriving a few hours before the rest of the fleet in the small hours of Wednesday morning.

Over the next few days, the rig will be stepped ahead of the Danish-backed team’s competitive comeback on June 6 in the Lisbon In-Port Race. Leg 8 to Lorient, a relative sprint at 647nm, begins a day later.

The race concludes on June 27 with the In-Port Race in Gothenburg after nine months and 38,739nm of sailing, visiting 11 ports and every continent.

Current latest standings (low points wins, In-Port Race Series splits ties): 1) Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing 16 pts, 2) Dongfeng Race Team 21, 3) Team Brunel 22, 4) MAPFRE 26, 5) Team Alvimedica 27, 6) Team SCA 41, 7) Team Vestas Wind (Denmark) 52 (DNS).

MAPFRE  Wins the Team Vestas Wind Newport  In-Port  Race (Photo by Miranda Hoang)

MAPFRE Wins the Team Vestas Wind Newport In-Port Race (Photo by Miranda Hoang)

 

Spanish boat MAPFRE, boosted by the return of their skipper Iker Martinez, claimed their first win of the Volvo Ocean Race in-port series on Saturday in front of thousands of spectators.

In a day of light winds and overcast skies, the start was all-important and MAPFRE were away to a beauty on the 9.2-nautical mile (17-kilometre) course.

With Martinez at the helm, the red boat raced to the first mark with a narrow lead over Team Alvimedica (Turkey/US) and gradually stretched their advantage in a race completed in just under an hour.

The result leaves the Spanish crew still trailing the fleet in the overall standings on 31 points, but they have closed the gap considerably after a string of largely disappointing performances prior to Saturday.

MAPFRE  Wins the Team Vestas Wind Newport  In-Port  Race (Photo by Miranda Hoang)

MAPFRE Wins the Team Vestas Wind Newport In-Port Race (Photo by Miranda Hoang)

Martinez, 37, was delighted to return to the winner’s circle having returned to lead the crew after missing the previous leg due to Olympic commitments.

The helmsman from San Sebastian won gold in the 2004 Athens Games and silver in Beijing 2008, but finished disappointingly down the field in the 2012 London Olympics.

He is determined to put that right in Rio de Janeiro next year, but his commitment to his preparation has led to his missing several legs in this edition of the nine-month Ocean Race which started last October.

“We are improving slowly and that’s the way we want to do these things,” said Martinez after the victory. “Today we were first and we’re feeling super good.”

Team Alvimedica, led by Newport local Charlie Enright, clung on to second place while Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing stole third position from the all-women crew of Team SCA, who made a damaging positioning error mid-race.

The result puts Abu Dhabi, led by Briton Ian Walker, back on top of the overall in-port race series standings on 19 points. The series will count towards a separate trophy and be used to split ties in the main offshore competition.

Volvo Ocean Race In-Port race fleet off Fort Adams, Rhode Island. Photo by Miranda Hoang)

The six boats in the fleet will begin the seventh leg, a 2,800-nautical mile (4,815km) trip to Lisbon, Portugal, on Sunday at 1800GMT.

Abu Dhabi lead by six points from China’s Dongfeng Race Team, with three legs to complete in the nine-month, 38,739-nautical mile (71,745km) marathon.

The race concludes on June 27 in Gothenburg, Sweden, having visited 11 ports and every continent.

Photo by George Bekris

Photo by George Bekris

 

Team Vestas Wind In-Port Race Newport results 

Course: 3 laps.
Bearing to top gate: 230
Distance to top: 1.4nm, extended to 1.8nm on the 3rd lap.
Total distance sailed: 9.2nm
TWD: 180-185
TWS: 8kts

Team Vestas Wind In-Port Race Newport Results:

1. MAPFRE 14:55:41 – 1pt
2. Team Alvimedica 14:56:39 – 2pts
3. Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing 14:57:38 – 3pts
4. Team SCA 14:57:57 – 4pts
5. Team Brunel 14:58:17 – 5pts
6. Dongfeng Race Team 14:59:09 – 6pts
DNS. Team Vestas Wind – 8pts

In-Port series Overall standings:

1. Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing – 19pts
2. Team Brunel – 20pts
3. Team SCA – 24pts
4. Dongfeng Race Team – 27pts
5. Team Alvimedica – 28pts
6. MAPFRE – 31pts
7. Team Vestas Wind  – 52pts

Volvo Ocean Race Village (Photo by George Bekris)

Volvo Ocean Race Village (Photo by George Bekris)

Crew List for Team Vestas Wind Newport In-Port Race:

Dongfeng Race Team Charles Caudrelier FRA Kevin Escoffier FRA Thomas Rouxel FRA Martin Strömberg SWE Chen Jin Hao (Horace) CHN Pascal Bidegorry FRA Sidney Gavignet FRA Jiru Yang (Wolf) CHN Yann Riou FRA (OBR)

Team Alvimedica Charles Enright USA William Oxley AUS Alberto Bolzan ITA Mark Towill USA Sébastien Marsset FRA Nick Dana USA Ryan Houston NZL Dave Swete NZL Amory Ross USA (OBR)

MAPFRE Iker Martínez ESP Xabi Fernández ESP Jean-Luc Nélias FRA Rob Greenhalgh GBR André Fonseca BRA Antonio Cuervas-Mons ESP Carlos Hernández ESP Guillermo Altadill ESP Francisco Vignale ARG (OBR)

Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing Ian Walker GBR Simon Fisher GBR Daryl Wislang NZL Adil Khalid UAE Luke Parkinson AUS Justin Slattery IRL Roberto Bermúdez de Castro ESP Phil Harmer AUS Matt Knighton USA (OBR)

Team Brunel Bouwe Bekking NED Andrew Cape AUS Jens Dolmer DEN Pablo Arrarte ESP Louis Balcaen BEL Adam Minoprio NZL Rokas Milevicius LTU Timo Hagoort NED Stefan Coppers NED (OBR)

Team SCA Sam Davies GBR Carolijn Brouwer NED Dee Caffari GBR Abby Ehler GBR Annie Lush GBR Elodie-Jane Mettraux SUI Stacey Jackson AUS Libby Greenhalgh GBR Liz Wardley AUS Sally Barkow USA Sophie Ciszek AUS Anna-Lena Elled SWE (OBR)

Photo by George Bekris

Photo by George Bekris

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

You can follow our story and interact with the team on all social media channels and our official website:

Facebook: Click here
Twitter: Click here
Instagram: Click here
Weibo: Click here
WeChat: Click here
Youtube: Click here
YouKu: Click here
Official website: Click here

 

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

website:

Facebook: Click here
Twitter: Click here
Instagram: Click here
Weibo: Click here
WeChat: Click here
Youtube: Click here
YouKu: Click here
Official website: Click here

 

Volvo Ocean Race Fleet round mark before heading out of Cape Town starting Leg 2  (Photo © Ainhoa Sanchez/Volvo Ocean Race)

Volvo Ocean Race Fleet round mark before heading out of Cape Town starting Leg 2 (Photo © Ainhoa Sanchez/Volvo Ocean Race)

– Gusts of up to 35 knots send fleet off to flyer

– Follow the race all the way on our app

CAPE TOWN, South Africa, November 19 – Skippers of the seven boats in the Volvo Ocean Race fleet, which set out for the 6,125 nautical mile (nm) Leg 2 from Cape Town to Abu Dhabi on Wednesday, left with warnings of possible cyclone activity and tropical storms ringing in their ears.

Race organisers took late measures to keep the 66 sailors away from the very worst of the weather on the Indian Ocean with a new exclusion zone leading to the Seychelles.

There were already zones in place to avoid icebergs in the Southern Ocean and the more unlikely menace of pirate attack further down the route on the east coast of the Indian Ocean.

The latter zone was being kept secret from the public to avoid the possibility of the fleet being intercepted.

From the very start on Wednesday (1800 local/1600 UTC), the sailors were given a taste of things to come with gusts of up to 35 knots kicking up a procession of white-capped waves.

It was a question of ‘don’t break your boat’ as most opted for conservative sail choices, while they wrestled to keep them under control and intact.

For the second leg start in a row, Team Brunel led the fleet out of port after wrestling the lead, first from MAPFRE (Iker Martínez/ESP), and then Team SCA (Sam Davies/GBR) who were well in the hunt.

Brunel and Mapfre leave Cape Town, South Africa at start of Leg 2 of the Volvo Ocean Race 2014-15 (Photo © Chris Shoemaker/Volvo Ocean Race)

Brunel and Mapfre leave Cape Town, South Africa at start of Leg 2 of the Volvo Ocean Race 2014-15 (Photo © Chris Shoemaker/Volvo Ocean Race)

 

The fleet will continue to sail in these gale-force conditions, which Team Alvimedica skipper Charlie Enright (USA) described before the start as ‘heinous’.

“I think we’re all going to have to be pretty conservative,” he told the skippers’ press conference, just over 24 hours earlier. “This could be the worst sea state these boats have ever seen.”

Favourites for the leg are Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing (Ian Walker/GBR), who have barely made a false move since setting out from Alicante on October 11.

They followed their 12-minute win over Dongfeng Race Team in Leg 1 on November 5, by securing victory on Saturday in the Cape Town in-port race.

When asked if there were such a thing as ‘home advantage’ in sailing, Walker, 44, was determined to keep his crew’s feet on the ground – as well as his own.

“First we have to get there,” he smiled. “I’ll be happy just to get within range and then arrive in Abu Dhabi. There’s a fantastic welcome for everybody in store once we get there, that’s for sure.”

Team Vestas Wind surprised onlookers when a choir on board their support boat burst into song just prior to the start. Their message was loud and clear: ‘There’s an even more important race we must win – to save the environment’.

Leg 2 is expected to take between 22 to 28 days to complete, depending on conditions. The boats will remain in Abu Dhabi over Christmas and the New Year before setting sail again on January 3 for Sanya, China.

 

Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing leaving Cape Town, South Africa at start of Leg 2 of the Volvo Ocean Race 2014-15 (Photo © Chris Shoemaker/Volvo Ocean Race)

Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing leaving Cape Town, South Africa at start of Leg 2 of the Volvo Ocean Race 2014-15 (Photo © Chris Shoemaker/Volvo Ocean Race)