This year’s Volvo Ocean Race (VOR) is still several months on the horizon, but teams are now actively practicing and racking-up their offshore miles aboard the brand-new fleet of identical Volvo Ocean 65s, which will be used to contest the next two editions of the race. As part of each team’s preparation efforts, they must sail a 2,000 mile, non-stop qualification leg that involves participation by at least 60 percent of the race crew.
Despite a truncated training passage from Qingdao, China, to Auckland, New Zealand due to headwinds, the Dongfeng Race Team, lead by skipper Charles Caudrelier (FRA), has become the first team to qualify for the 2014/2015 VOR. Unfortunately for the team, however, two Chinese-national sailors, Liu Xue and Yiran Zhang, have both decided to stay ashore during the race.
'Obviously I’m disappointed,' said Caudrelier. 'These are two men we handpicked, who had the right attitude and the right level of experience. But the race will be unlike anything they’re ever done before and I understand their choice, even though I am disappointed. It is what it is and this is the Volvo Ocean Race and if you suffer from sea sickness that you can’t overcome or you feel that you’re not up to the challenge, now is the time to say.'
Despite this psychological setback, the team is still looking forward to their around-the-world adventure, which starts in earnest for their squad late next month when the team sails their VO65 from Newport, Rhode Island, to Lorient, France.
'We will be in full ‘race mode’ on the transatlantic,' said Bruno Dubois, Team Principal. 'And this will be another big step on the learning curve for our Chinese crew but the more we sail with them, the more we see their potential and feel convinced that for the next race and in future editions, Chinese sailors have a great future in the demanding discipline of offshore racing.'
Get the full scoop on the Dongfeng Race Team, inside.
Members of the US Sailing Team Sperry Top-Sider are getting ready for the ISAF Sailing World Cup Mallorca in Spain, which takes place from April 21 to April 26 in in Hyères, France. According to reports, the American-flagged contingency will be sending 30 sailors to the Continent, who will be racing in nine different Olympic classes.
Get the full list of competing American sailors, inside this issue, and stay tuned for racecourse reports from this prestigious regatta next week.
In America’s Cup news, word recently hit that Dirk de Ridder, Oracle Team USA’s primary wing trimmer who was thrown out of the 34th America’s Cup for tampering with the kingposts on the team’s AC45 catamarans (which the team used to compete in America’s Cup World Series events) has received a five-year suspension from the sport of sailing for his involvement in the scandal.
For de Ridder, this penalty could effectively end his professional sailing career. For comparison, most ISAF suspensions last between 12 and 24 months. According to reports, inside, de Ridder’s case will go before the International Sailing Federation's Review Board later this month. Get the full scoop on this controversial situation, inside this issue.
Meanwhile, in the Caribbean, the fortunate few are enjoying a fine week of sailing at the Les Voiles de St. Barth, which wraps-up racing on Saturday. ''We have a perfect boat, a perfect program, and a perfect team,' said Karol Jablonski, the skipper of the IRC-52, 'Near Miss'. 'I've been with them for three years and we work very well together. We've had some great successes so far, and I hope to continue that way. This is our first time here and we expect some strong competition.'
Also inside, don’t miss the latest news on the Rolex China Sea Race, the World Youth Sailing Week, as well as ISAF’s latest match race rankings.
And finally, for tech-savvy sailors, don’t miss the Q&A with Afterguard Marine’s founder, Alex Moret, to learn more about the company’s new Heads-Up Display glasses.
May the four winds blow you safely home,