Dongfeng optimistic about returning to Volvo Ocean Race

Published on April 13th, 2015

Itajai, Brazil (April 13, 2015) –  Dongfeng Race Team (Charles Caudrelier/FRA) breathed a huge sigh of relief today after the boat arrived in Itajaí right on schedule ready for the refit of a new mast.

It has been a long journey for the stricken boat since the top of its mast fractured 200 nautical miles (nm) from Cape Horn in heinous Southern Ocean conditions on March 30 during the Leg 5 from Auckland to Itajaí, south-east Brazil.

The spare mast had to come from Dubai, via Amsterdam, to Brazil and despite some major logistical challenges, that had arrived safely too yesterday.

After taking refuge in Ushuaia, Argentina following the breakage, the boat itself was sailed by a shore crew team plus two Chinese sailors under jury rig, partly under motor, for 2,000nm through the Southern Ocean and South Atlantic for its rendezvous in Itajaí with the new mast.

Volvo Ocean Race Boatyard chief, Nick Bice, and his team will be working flat out with the Dongfeng Race Team shore team to ensure the boat is in optimum condition for the weekend’s In-Port Race on Saturday and then the start of Leg 6 on Sunday (Apr 18-19).

The ambition is to have the boat back in the water by Thursday (Apr 16) with the new rig fitted and any other minor repairs carried out.

“Breaking the mast was a difficult moment,” said Caudrelier. “We lost the joint lead of the race, we lost eight points. Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing (Ian Walker/GBR) are now far ahead and they have a big advantage. It will be difficult to come back and we’re close in points with the boats behind – we could very well finish fifth.

As they did not complete the leg, Dongfeng Race Team collected eight points to go seven behind stage victors Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing (see panel above – low points lead).

However, as Caudrelier makes clear, there is still all to play for. Leg 6 sets off from Itajaí to Newport, Rhode Island on Sunday, April 19, and three more follow it including the transatlantic trip from USA to Lisbon (Leg 7).

Race websiteTrackingScoreboardVideos

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. The sixth leg, from Itajaí, Brazil to Newport, USA (5,010 nm), begins April 19 with an ETA of May 4 to 11.

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