Training up the Chinese

Photo: Raf Sanchez/PSI/Volvo Ocean Race
Skipper Charles Caudrelier tells us of the Dongfeng Race Team Volvo Ocean Race campaign
With the largest population in the world, China is one nation the Volvo Ocean Race would very much like to ‘capture’. So following the Green Dragon and Team Sanya campaigns, for this year’s race there is a dedicated Chinese entry which aims to get more Chinese sailors into the race than ever previously achieved. Dongfeng is one of China’s top three car manufacturers and a substantial part of its business is joint venture deals with foreign manufacturers. It is no coincidence that the sponsorship of a Volvo Ocean Race team followed the agreement in early 2013 between Dongfeng and Volvo to form a medium to heavy truck manufacturing joint venture in China, owned 55% by Dongfeng Motor and 45% by Volvo. Dongfeng’s Volvo Ocean Race campaign is run by OC Group – their first foray into the fully crewed round the world race following several Vendee Globe campaigns and round the world records, although personally it is a race CEO Mark Turner remembers fondly from his lap aboard British Defender in 1989/90. The latest campaign is managed on a day to day basis by another former Whitbread competitor, Bruno Dubois, better known for being boss of North Sails France. Training up China Unlike other Volvo Ocean Race teams where the sole remit is to win, Dongfeng is first and foremost about training up Chinese sailors, with the competition being secondary. Because of this when the Dongfeng crew list was finally announced last week, it featured four-five Chinese sailors among the crew. Five months ago French ace Charles Caudrelier, a former Solitaire du Figaro winner and a key part of Frank Cammas’ Volvo Ocean Race winning Groupama crew, was brought on board as skipper. As the time Caudrelier was looking for the budget for an IMOCA/Vendee Globe campaign, but hadn’t found the money.