by Amy Monkman
Sevenstar Round Britain and Ireland Race – Day three for Dongfeng Race Team.
Dongfeng Race team in the spray
Sitting in an office it’s easy to look at a tracker and think ‘come on!’ or ‘they’re only five miles away’. It’s easy to sit at your comfortable desk and casually refresh the page excited to see which Volvo Ocean 65 is in which position.
What you don’t think about is how hard it must be out there to keep motivated, to keep it together and most importantly to keep fighting.
Essentially, at the half waypoint of the Round Britain and Ireland Race, Dongfeng Race Team had a broken sail and a semi-broken sailor. Pascal Bidégorry, although still able to do his job as navigator onboard (and a great job at that), is out for the count as far as manoeuvres are concerned, taking the team longer to make any sail changes and losing valuable time on the competition. Combine that with the onset of fatigue and the constant soakings in the wild conditions, Dongfeng Race Team are hanging in there.
Although still in a gruesome and painful condition Pascal’s hand has been repaired to the best possible state by calm colleague and three-time Volvo Ocean Race goer Martin Strömberg.
Despite the setbacks Dongfeng are still relentlessly fighting their Volvo Ocean Race competitors Team Campos for second place behind Ian Walker’s Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing with less than 750 miles of the 1,800 mile course to go. Which can’t be easy considering the circumstances. You only have to look at today’s video to see the bitter disappointment in Caudrelier’s face when he talks about the team’s ripped sail [Fractional Code 0].
The latest update from the boat explains that it’s been another 'hard night again, but it should be better soon. We shall bear away in one hour which is good for two reasons. First, we will be outside wind zone of our missing sail. Second, it will be a bit more easy sailing. There is not too much talking onboard. The guys go straight from the deck to their bunk.'
The wind is playing ball too – as they rounded the top of Britain, the wind direction changed course too, now from the North West, allowing the leading boats to fast reach down the west coast of Scotland and Ireland. It’s going to be an interesting battle to the finish line.
This race has so far has given a promising glimpse of the team’s resilience and ability to face adversity. Charles Caudrelier’s team is made of strong characters who are in it for the fight and for each other. From this race, Dongfeng Race Team will lay down the roots of a bond that will be tried and tested over nine months and 39,000 nautical miles in the 2014-15 Volvo Ocean Race.
Track the team here