Donfeng claims Fastnet Race victory

Published on August 9th, 2017

Plymouth, UK (August 9, 2017) – Experience was evident as China’s Dongfeng Race Team edged out MAPFRE by just 56 seconds in the early hours today to top the seven Volvo Ocean Race teams in the Rolex Fastnet Race.

It had been an intense night of lead changes and fickle winds that ended with the entire fleet separated by less than 40 minutes after more than 600 miles of racing.

With the Fastnet Race as one of four events in the Leg Zero qualifying series for the Volvo Ocean Race, victory for Charles Caudrelier’s team keeps the scoreboard tight and heralds an epic battle to come when the race around the world begins October 22 from Alicante, Spain.

MAPFRE and Dongfeng had the best start back in Cowes on August 6, stayed close all the way around the race course and finally finished just metres from each other after fighting all the way to finish line off the Plymouth breakwater.

Dongfeng crossed the line at 04:18:10 local time, with MAPFRE following shortly afterwards at 04:19:06. Bouwe Bekking’s Team Brunel were next over the line – a result that will give them a massive boost given that their preparations started so late.

Volvo Ocean 65s in the Rolex Fastnet Race:
1. Dongfeng Race Team: 2 days 15 hours 38 minutes 10 seconds
2. MAPFRE: 2 days 15 hours 39 minutes 06 seconds
3. Team Brunel: 2 days 15 hours 45 minutes 47 seconds
4. team AkzoNobel: 2 days 15 hours 52 minutes 40 seconds
5. Vestas 11th Hour Racing: 2 days 16 hours 09 minutes 11 seconds
6. Sun Hung Kai/Scallywag: 2 days 16 hours 13 minutes 53 seconds
7. Turn the Tide on Plastic: 2 days 16 hours 17 minutes 32 seconds

Dongfeng leveraged their experience on how to set up the boat from the last race, and their crew’s local knowledge of these tricky coastlines, at times demonstrating superior boat speed and superb navigational choices.

Critical moments in their victory were when they regained the lead from team AkzoNobel before the Fastnet rounding and later, perfect navigation on the return from the Rock that saw them split from the fleet on the downwind run and pass through the obstacles around the Scilly Isles with fewer manoeuvres.

Despite often leading the fleet, Caudrelier revealed at the finish that their victory was far from certain. “We were leading at the Fastnet, leading the downwind and then suddenly, in big clouds we lost everything, we were last! Then another cloud helped us to come back, but afterwards MAPFRE were still there. They came back, passed us but we passed again. It was a nice fight with MAPFRE.”

A testament to the close racing, MAPFRE skipper Xabi Fernández explained that the final finishing order was determined by one crucial gust. Dongfeng were able to furl and drop their masthead zero before MAPFRE and pass the Spanish boat when they were caught out with too much sail up.

“At the end we had a big sail and a 20-knot gust hit us, while Dongfeng had a smaller sail,” explained Xabi. “It’s a pity but it was a very good race for us.”

 

Brunel’s third place finish – after they grabbed second in the record-breaking race around the Isle of Wight last Wednesday – was another sign that Bouwe Bekking’s team have hit the ground running after announcing their participation only recently.

“The team has done extremely well,” said the Dutchman. “They all dug in 100% and I think everyone can look each other in the eye and say for the time being we got the maximum out of the team. We learnt a heck of a lot. I think that’s the most important thing.”

Overall Leg Zero rankings after 2 of 4 stages:
MAPFRE 15 points
Dongfeng Race Team 13
Team Brunel 13
team AkzoNobel 11
Vestas 11th Hour Racing 7
Turn the Tide on Plastic 6
Sun Hung Kai/Scallywag 5

There are two more races to go in the Leg Zero series of qualifiers. Tomorrow, the fleet will race from Plymouth to Saint-Malo in France. After a non-scoring Pro-Am Race on Saturday (Aug 12), the teams will complete the series with a race from Saint-Malo to Lisbon, starting on Sunday.

While an overall Leg Zero winner will be declared, based on equal scoring for each of the four stages, no points will be carried forward to the Volvo Ocean Race itself.

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Background: The 603nm Rolex Fastnet Race is organised by the Royal Ocean Racing Club (RORC) and just 7 boats sailed in the first race in 1925. The race has been sponsored since 2001 by Rolex SA of Geneva and is legendary within the world of ocean racing. A record-sized fleet of 368 boats started the 47th edition of the biennial race off the Royal Yacht Squadron line, Cowes, Isle of Wight on Sunday 6th August 2017. It is the largest offshore race in the world and attracts the most diverse fleet of yachts.


The seven teams in the 2017-18 Volvo Ocean Race must compete in four required qualification races, known as Leg Zero, to prepare for the October 22 start in Alicante, Spain.

Two legs combined with scheduled events:
• August 2: The immensely popular Round the Island Race, a 50-nautical mile sprint around the Isle of Wight.
• August 6: The famous 603 nm Rolex Fastnet Race featuring some of the hottest yachting hardware on the planet in a coastal race that has historically served up a hearty dose of danger – and a lot of stressed navigators.

Two legs just for the Volvo Open 65 teams:
• August 10: Plymouth, England to St Malo in France (125 nm)
• August 13: St Malo to Lisbon, Portugal (770 nm)

NOTE: There remains the possibility for an 8th team to still enter. If this occurs, the Notice of Race has a provision to ensure qualification sailing at the direction of the race organizer occurs.

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2017-18 Edition: Entered Teams – Skippers
Team AkzoNobel (NED), Simeon Tienpont (NED)
Dongfeng Race Team (CHN), Charles Caudrelier (FRA)
MAPFRE (ESP), Xabi Fernández (ESP)
Vestas 11th Hour Racing (DEN/USA), Charlie Enright (USA)
Team Sun Hung Kai/Scallywag (HKG), David Witt (AUS)
Turn the Tide on Plastic (POR), Dee Caffari (GBR)
Team Brunel (NED), Bouwe Bekking (NED)

Background: Racing the one design Volvo Ocean 65, the 2017-18 Volvo Ocean Race begins in Alicante, Spain on October 22 2017 with the final finish in The Hague, Netherlands on June 30 2018. In total, the 11-leg race will visit 12 cities in six continents: Alicante, Lisbon, Cape Town, Melbourne, Hong Kong, Guangzhou, Auckland, Itajaí, Newport, Cardiff, Gothenburg, and The Hague. A maximum of eight teams will compete.

Source: Volvo Ocean Race

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