Kiwis get the chance to see the new one-design boat which will be used by all teams in the Volvo Ocean Race 2014-15 when Dongfeng Race Team sail into Auckland next month.
VO65 ’Dongfeng’ Official Launch Ceremony From the left: Solo round the world sailor Guo Chuan who also competed in the Volvo Ocean Race 2008-09, Tong Dongcheng, the Vice President of Dongfeng Motor Corporation, Zhang Ning, Olympic badminton player, Mr Li Quan-Hai, Director of Watersports National Bureau of the China Yachting Association and Skipper Charles Caudrelier - Volvo Ocean Race 2014-15
Dongfeng Race Team are sailing a training leg from the team base in Sanya to Auckland in a trial run of what will be the challenging Leg 4 of the Volvo Ocean Race next year.
The official Chinese entry is skippered by Charles Caudrelier, part of the victorious Groupama team from the last edition of the Race. The Dongfeng team for the 2014-15 Race has yet to be announced but this training leg will be the first long offshore sailing experience for six Chinese crew members on board.
'The training process has been gruelling and we have all been in constant competition with each other. It’s such a fantastic feeling to be part of the group chosen by Charles for this particular journey because I know this will be great experience for us and will bring us another step closer to making it into the final race crew,' says Liu Xue, one of the six Chinese crew members on board.
Dongfeng training in Hong Kong before sailing to Sanya, Hainan. Skipper Charles Caudrelier at the helm
The journey from Sanya to Auckland is 5,264 nautical miles, expected to take around 21 days, and is considered as one of the toughest legs of the Volvo Ocean Race. Dongfeng Race Team are expected to reach Auckland Harbour on 8 April.
Auckland is a legendary Volvo Ocean Race stopover and the city is preparing to welcome the team with open arms.
'It’s great news that Dongfeng is coming to Auckland in April and we will welcome the boat and crew in style,' says Richard Wingfield, Chairman of the Local Organising Committee for the Auckland Stopover 2015. 'This will be the first chance for Kiwis to see the new one-design boat and I know there’ll be a lot of people down at the waterfront eager to see it close-up.'
'This first training leg for the Dongfeng Race Team has always been a key part of the training strategy. Looking ahead, the next important step is to choose the crew and I think this journey will play a key part in that. It will allow us to really test their offshore stamina as it will be a long and tough leg,' says skipper Caudrelier.
Dongfeng training in Sanya, skipper Charles Caudrelier at the helm
Team Director, Bruno Dubois adds: 'Our planning has been driven by our desire to allow the Dongfeng Race Team to experience as many miles of the Volvo Ocean Race course as possible. This will be the first training leg for the team where we can put the Chinese Academy Squad sailors under the spotlight, as close to a race environment as we can make it.'
After the stopover in Auckland, subject to timings, the team may then sail Dongfeng to Itajai, Brazil and on to Newport, USA or the team may elect to ship the boat direct to Newport before sailing across the Atlantic to Europe in full race mode.
Volvo Ocean Race 2014-15 features nine Legs starting in Alicante (Spain) in October 2014 with Stopovers in Cape Town (South Africa), Abu Dhabi (United Arab Emirates), Sanya (China), Auckland (New Zealand), Itajai (Brazil), Newport (USA), Lisbon (Portugal) and Lorient (France) with a brief pitstop in The Hague (Netherlands) before the finish in Gothenburg (Sweden) on 27 June 2015.
Auckland Stopover will run from 27 February to 15 March 2015. It will be the ninth time the Race has come to Auckland. This is the twelfth edition of the Race which was first held back in 1973/74.