Sevenstar Round Britain and Ireland Race, day five for Dongfeng Race Team.
If you’re from the sailing world you will already know about the extra pressure the One Design nature of the Volvo Ocean 65 racing machines has put on the sailors of the Volvo Ocean Race.
And even if you’re not from a sailing background all you need to know is:
Two years ago the Volvo Ocean Race introduced a One-Design boat.
All identical, all built to the same rule, no way to buy victory through technology.
Meaning the playing field is even in technology terms.
Meaning the pressure is all on the people.
Meaning there are no more excuses.
With the finish line approaching, Dongfeng Race Team, one of the Volvo Ocean 65s competing in the Round Britain and Ireland Race, are currently defending third position, holding off the attacks from Alvimedica and Team SCA overnight and throughout today as they head up the English Channel towards the finish in Cowes. For some the outcome of this race could provide a form guide for the Volvo Ocean Race itself, and naturally the predictions were that Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing would come out on top. As it turns out these predictions were spot on and with Ian Walker’s ‘Azzam’ just hours away from the finish line in a record breaking time (for monohulls), it’s time to truly dig into what it means to race ‘One Design’.
Although some are world class dinghy sailors in their own right, for the Chinese onboard ‘Dongfeng’ adapting to boats as big and powerful as the Volvo Ocean 65, and sailing out of sight of land, is where the challenge lies. Knowing that the design of the boat would no longer play a part in the outcome of the race it has been down to Team Director, Bruno Dubois and Skipper Charles Caudrelier to iron out the creases of communication and build a strong, solid team to compete in this edition of the Volvo Ocean Race. In a race where every tiny move or change of trim is the difference between keeping a place or losing it, racing is intense and the victors will be the team excelling in boat trim, seamanship, tactics, best interpretation of the weather data and pure physical and mental endurance. Small things will matter in this new breed of boats.
Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing are currently setting the bar very high for the rest of the Volvo Ocean Race teams. And its not surprising with 20 Volvo Ocean Races between the crew – a total of 13 years and seven months at sea – something wouldn’t quite be right if they weren’t at the front of the fleet.
But for Dongfeng Race Team training continues – the learning curve remains very steep and what better way to go up it than racing against your competitors in this dress rehearsal. The team will get better, the people will grow stronger and the gap will close.
Track the team here