Please select your home edition
Edition
Naiad/Oracle Supplier

Volvo Ocean Race - Near collision with whale for Dongfeng

by Dongfeng Race Team on 4 Jun 2014
A variety of conditions onboard as Dongfeng Race Team prepare to race for China in the Volvo Ocean Race Dongfeng Race Team
When crossing the Atlantic Ocean in a Volvo Ocean 65, it’s relatively easy to imagine the challenges you might face. Dealing with storms, exhaustion, seasickness and feeling cold, wet and hungry 24/7 are a given, but few of us actually imagine some of the less obvious dangers that are out there in the depths of this unpredictable ocean, including other life forms…

From Skipper Charles Caudrelier: 'We had the scariest experience to date during the night when we came so close to hitting a whale, so close we could hear it breathing. You can smell whales in the air but in the pitch black you can’t tell where they are. You can’t sense them in the water because very often when whales are at the surface it’s because they’re sleeping, so it’s a nasty surprise for both the whale and us! I just held my breath knowing how close we were to potential danger but, thankfully, we didn’t hit it – we just had a near miss. The night was one of the darkest I’ve ever experienced with absolutely no moon at all, we had barley any visual. When the night is that black it’s hard for your eyes to adapt,' reported Charles.


'But all is well onboard. I’m very happy with how the Chinese guys appear to be coming into their own, they are showing true determination. I am especially pleased with how well Kong is doing considering he had less time to train than the other two. He has shown bravery and strength over the past 24 hours and I am very impressed. Onboard disappointment crept in as we realised that the high pressure in front of us had shifted, we tried to cross a front and it killed the wind from the west. We had light wind all day yesterday and as predicted at nightfall when the rain came we went from 10 to 40 knots in just a few minutes.'

Team Director Bruno Dubois had a similar experience when he participated in the Volvo Ocean Race (known as the Whitbread back then). 'When we were sailing from New Zealand to Punta del Este we hit a whale, we lost our rudder and lost the race at the same time,' said Bruno. 'Back then the ranking of the race was based on the accumulation of time for each leg and not points like it is today. When something as unpredictable as hitting a whale happens during the race it’s devastating.'


Hitting (or narrowly missing in our case!) a whale is one of the many lurking dangers of offshore sailing. 'The most challenging part of the transatlantic for the team is the weather and technical issues,' explains the team’s Technical Manager Neil Graham. 'The other night the team had 45 knots of wind but had they been in the centre of the depression they could have had up to 60 knots. This is something a Volvo Ocean 65 is equipped to handle but strong winds exacerbate problems, you only need a few things to go wrong and you’re in serious trouble.'

Four days into their transatlantic crossing, Dongfeng Race Team has covered around 700nm with 2,160nm to go to the finish. The latest routing predicts an estimated arrival on 10th June – a slower crossing than originally predicted, but the storm over the weekend and a problem with canting the keel today (likely to be an electronic gremlin) just goes to show life on the open ocean is never ‘plain sailing’!



InSunSport - NZSchaefer 2016 Ratchet 300x250Bakewell-White Yacht Design

Related Articles

Volvo Ocean Race - In case you missed it - Kiteboarder jumps off Azzam
Video - Danish kitesurfing sensation Nick Jacobsen teamed up with Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing to perform a world first Video - Danish kitesurfing sensation Nick Jacobsen teamed up with Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing to perform a world first - an incredible leap from Azzam's 30 metre mast, in June 2015. The stunt took place in Gothenburg, Sweden, after Abu Dhabi Ocean racing had won the 2014-15 Volvo Ocean Race.
Posted on 15 Mar
Volvo Ocean Race museum proves big hit with foreign tourists
The Volvo Ocean Race’s museum has established itself as one of the most popular attractions in Alicante, southern Spain. The Volvo Ocean Race’s museum has established itself as one of the most popular attractions in the busy tourist city of Alicante, southern Spain, with 50,488 visitors during 2015.
Posted on 13 Jan
Volvo Ocean Race – New head of port operations appointed
Volvo Ocean Race – Richard Mason has been appointed the event's head of port operations. Volvo Ocean Race – Richard Mason, four-time Volvo Ocean Race sailor and the man who led the shore crew for Team SCA women’s team in the last edition, has been appointed the event's head of port operations.
Posted on 25 Nov 2015
Volvo Ocean Race - Jonah Lomu on board Abu Dhabi OR + RWC tries Video
New Zealand is celebrating the life of All Black great Jonah Lomu - a man who gave so much and expected so little New Zealand is celebrating the life of All Black great Jonah Lomu - a man who gave so much and expected so little. He was an onboard guest on Abu Dhabi during the Auckland Stopover of the 2014-15 Volvo Ocean Race Here's the video of that day on March 14, 2015 and the Rugby World Cup video compilation of all his RWC tries
Posted on 19 Nov 2015
Volvo Ocean Race - Two greats inducted into World Sailing Hall of Fame
The ISAF has announced Sir Peter Blake (NZL) and Torben Grael (BRA) will join the World Sailing Hall of Fame The careers and contributions of two Volvo Ocean Race legends have been celebrated at the ISAF Annual Conference in Sanya, China. Sailing’s governing body has announced that it is inducting the late Sir Peter Blake (NZL) and Torben Grael (BRA) into the World Sailing Hall of Fame – the highest honour in the sport.
Posted on 14 Nov 2015
Volvo Ocean Race - Report confirms 2014-15 edition as best yet
The end of Race Report, released today, confirms that the 2014-15 Volvo Ocean Race was the most successful ever The 2014-15 edition of the Volvo Ocean Race was the most successful ever, figures show in the official Race Report released on Monday. The curtain fell on the 12th edition of the 42-year-old event in Gothenburg on June 27, and today’s report confirms it was the best yet.
Posted on 3 Nov 2015
Volvo Ocean Race - History delivers a wild ride
It was two years ago this month that Bernardo Arsuaga walked into the Volvo Ocean Race museum. It was two years ago this month that Bernardo Arsuaga walked into the Volvo Ocean Race museum. The 38-year-old lawyer was walking around the '40 days, 40 faces' photography exhibition, when he noticed a picture of a middle-aged, bespectacled Mexican in a big sombrero celebrating with some obviously close buddies.
Posted on 18 Oct 2015
Volvo Ocean Race – Should Lawyers be banned and Multihulls
Knut Frostad, the outgoing CEO of VOR was a dual Olympian who then sailed in four VORs. Part IV of interview series. Knut Frostad, the outgoing CEO of the Volvo Ocean Race (VOR), was a dual Olympian who then sailed in four VORs. He has some strong views on sailing, lawyers and sportsmanship.Part IV of the Sail-World interview series continues.
Posted on 4 Oct 2015
Volvo Ocean Race - Team SCA axed + Videos
Sadly the recent rumours that sponsor of all women's Volvo Ocean Racer Team SCA are continuing have been confirmed. Sadly the recent rumours that the Swedish sponsor of the all women's Volvo Ocean Race Team SCA have decided not to continue their race involvement have been confirmed. Here is how SCA made the announcement today.
Posted on 3 Oct 2015
Not the Official Release from the VOR Press Conference.
It’s very interesting to go to press conferences and then read about them afterwards The latest edition of the Volvo Ocean Race finished in Gothenburg in the last week of June this year, and the Italian press (described as “knowledgeable” in a VOR press release) are asking Knut Frostad whether there will be an Italian entry on the next race? C’mon, guys, do you really think he has a yes/no answer to that? And there was someone asking about the possibility of a German entry...
Posted on 3 Oct 2015