A group of four Chinese sailors from the Chinese Yachting Association have been chosen to join the Dongfeng Race Team Academy Squad after the second round of Selection Trials. Xiaojing Li, Peng Zhang, Zhen Li and Chencheng Kong will join the existing Academy Squad sailors, bringing the total number of Chinese trainees to 12.
Following a successful and intense second round of selection trials, held over the eighth-9th February, four CYA sailors have joined the final Academy Squad. These 12 Chinese athletes will now compete against each other for several months in order to gain a place on the final race team. The Chinese crew members selected to sail onboard the Volvo Ocean 65 ‘Dongfeng’ during the next edition of the Volvo Ocean Race will be chosen from this squad. 'We plan to have several Chinese sailors onboard Dongfeng for the race. They will race shoulder to shoulder with the experienced professional Western crew as the extremity of the race, experience onboard is a must and at this point. Our Academy Squad sailors don’t have the offshore experience at this time, nor have they competed at this high level of offshore competition. However this campaign is looking at the future of Chinese sailing and is part of a bigger picture. In future editions of the race we can expect to see a full Chinese crew and Chinese skipper, but these things need time,' explains Team Director Bruno Dubois.
Xiaojing Li was elected by Guangdong provincial team in 1998 and has since participated in four World Championships, two editions of the Asian Games and China’s National Games four times. 'Xiaojing works incredibly hard and is one of the best performers we’ve seen, he’s a great team player,' commented training coach, John Thorn. Finn sailor Peng Zhen was also selected by the Guangdong Provincial Team in 1996 and has since participated in the Beijing Olympic Games and several world championships. 'Dongfeng Race Team will represent China in the Volvo Ocean Race, one of the highest level sporting events on the planet.' explains Peng, 'It is my dream to take part in this race and even more so to represent my country.' Both Zhen Li and Chencheng Kong share their teammates enthusiasm for the race. 'We are delighted to be given the opportunity to prove ourselves worthy of participating in the Volvo Ocean Race. We will work hard to achieve our dream,' says Chencheng Kong.
'These guys work so hard and their determination to become part of the final race team is unlike anything I’ve ever seen, they are clearly willing to push themselves to the limit and do whatever it takes, the competition is fierce,' explains Thorn.
CYA Sailor Xiaojing Li pushes himself to the limit during a strength test. - © OC Sport
Chen Cheng Kong (CYA Sailor) training hard during the Dongfeng Race Team second trials. - © OC Sport
Next Thursday, 26th February the Academy Squad sailors will proudly line up at the Official Christening of the Volvo Ocean 65 Dongfeng to be staged in Sanya at Serenity Marina, the Official Training Base for Dongfeng Race Team. Volvo Ocean Race Dongfeng Race Team