Everybody loves a storybook ending
Published on January 27th, 2015
Sanya, China (January 27, 2015) – It is always a storybook ending when a Volvo Ocean Race team can win a leg to their home country. Ian Walker’s Abu Dhabi team did not complete the chapter when his team arrived in the United Arab Emirates in third, but Charles Caudrelier’s Donfeng team met the challenge by leading the fleet virtually all the way from Abu Dhabi to Sanya in China to take the gun early today (Jan. 26, 23:31:38 UTC).
The reality is that it couldn’t have been scripted better. The Chinese team with two Chinese rookie sailors onboard – Liu Xue (Black) and Cheng Ying Kit – showed unparalleled grit and determination and led the entire fleet of some of the world’s best offshore sailors to their home country China. With the ambition to ‘bring offshore sailing to China’ nobody could have predicted the impact this team would have.
“It was the most stressful race of my life,” admitted Caudrelier. “We take the lead on the first day and we had to keep it because we had to arrive first here because it was very important for me and for the project, so we are so proud. One year ago we were here and we were discovering the Chinese sailors who were rookies and now they win the leg – it’s just fantastic.”
Walker, now competing in his third Volvo Ocean Race, is pleased with their finish. “With Dongfeng so far ahead and effectively out of range during the second half of the leg, it was vital we held off the chasing pack as we approached China. We’ve really won the ‘race within a race’ here, and it keeps us right on track. Our plan since the race began was to always finish on the podium, so after three legs we are exactly where we want to be. There is two-thirds of the race still to go and we will be sticking to our plan as we move forward.”
Alvimedica claimed their first podium finish, an important step for the race’s youngest team. “Our boat speed was better in certain conditions, our crew was gelling better and we were working in a more efficient way,” notes skipper Charlie Enright. “We were really determined to improve our performance from the first two offshore legs and it paid off today.”
As the elder statesman, Alvimedica navigator Will Oxley sees the team maturing. “We sailed our race looking forward not looking back. The improvement in boat speed and communication came together on Leg 3 to improve our overall performance on what was likely the most mentally challenging and stressful leg of the entire race.”
Falling off the podium for the first time was Brunel. “Finishing this leg in fifth position is a bad result for us,” states skipper Bouwe Bekking. “We didn’t do well enough on the decisive moments. Near Sri Lanka we parked up due to a lack of wind while the other boats behind us did have wind. You can’t control all circumstances but it’s very frustrating when your pursuers are able to catch up if you have a comfortable lead on them.”
Brunel crew Gerd-Jan Poortman notes the final straw was exiting the Malacca Strait. “We received a weather forecast in the Singapore Strait and interpreted it differently than the other teams. The entire fleet except us was cutting the corner. This turned out to be a wrong decision. From that moment on we only sailed upwind and it was difficult to catch up with the rest of the fleet because the boats are identical and the speed differences are limited.”
The fourth leg, from Sanya to Auckland, New Zealand (5,264 nm), begins Feb. 8 with an ETA of Feb. 25-Mar. 5.
Leg 3 (4,642 nm) Results
1. Dongfeng Race Team, Charles Caudrelier (FRA), finished, 23d 13h 31m 38s
2. Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing, Ian Walker (GBR), finished, 23d 16h 50m 30s
3. Team Alvimedica, Charlie Enright (USA), finished, 23d 17h 51m 15s
4. MAPFRE, Iker Martinez (ESP), finished, 23d 18h 23m 20s
5. Team Brunel, Bouwe Bekking (NED), finished, 23d 18h 25m 10s
6. Team SCA, Sam Davies (GBR), finished, 24d 02h 41m 45s
7. Team Vestas Wind, Chris Nicholson (AUS), Did not start
1. Dongfeng Race Team (CHN), 2-2-1 = 5 points
2. Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing (UAE), 1-3-2 = 6
3. Team Brunel (NED), 3-1-5 = 9
4. Team Alvimedica (TUR/USA), 5-4-3 = 12
5. MAPRE (ESP), 7-4-4 = 15
6. Team SCA (SWE), 6-6-6 = 18
7. Team Vestas Wind (DNK), 4-8-8 = 20
Background: The 2014-15 Volvo Ocean Race began in Alicante, Spain on Oct. 11 with the final finish on June 27 in Gothenburg, Sweden. Racing the new one design Volvo Ocean 65, seven teams will be scoring points in 9 offshore legs to determine the overall Volvo Ocean Race winner. Additionally, the teams will compete in 10 In-Port races at each stopover for a separate competition – the Volvo Ocean Race In-Port Series.