Just one week following the official announcement of Team Dongfeng, the new Chinese entry in the Volvo Ocean Race 2014-15 that is backed by Dongfeng Commercial Vehicle Company, the recruitment campaign was started. Since then applications have been arriving thick and fast for both the International spots in the team and for the Chinese sailors.
Team Dongfeng’s new Volvo Ocean 65 boat being painted at Green Marine
'It has been an encouraging start that has exceeded our expectations considering the short time we have had to launch the campaign,' said Team Director, Bruno Dubois. 'The caliber of international professional sailors applying has been at a very high level, and we have also received a healthy number of applicants from Chinese sailors including three female sailors. However, we hope for many more and we want to reach out to Chinese athletes who may or may not have sailing experience – and train them to be as good as ocean racers as possible. This race is a huge test of human endurance and all the crew will need a ‘strong heart’ and a competitive character.'
Team Dongfeng will have the interests of Chinese sailing at its core, with a significant number of Chinese in both its on-water and support teams. This campaign will be a Chinese one, racing for China, and for the future of Chinese sailing, with a base to be announced in China in the coming days.
The first phase of the recruitment process is predominantly focused on the sailing team – in other words finding Chinese athletes who want to be on board, and professional sailors who will race alongside them. At the same time, Team Dongfeng is also recruiting additional positions within the shore team, communications and sponsor account management roles. In addition to the race team, a key objective is the transference of knowledge and experience to the shore and support team, so that in future editions of the Volvo Ocean Race China can have a 100% Chinese entry.
The selection and training programme of the Chinese applicants will begin in December and run through to January. 'We will run a very intensive training programme in smaller boats and on the Volvo Ocean 65 ‘Dongfeng’ race boat at our training base in China between December and March 2014. By April 2014 we will reduce the selected Chinese training squad of about 20 sailors to just 6-8 crew elite crew; it is our plan to select the final Chinese sailors who will race on board ‘Dongfeng’ in June.'
The new Volvo Ocean 65 one-design boat ‘Dongfeng’ is expected to leave the build shed at Green Marine and touch the water for the first time at the beginning of December ahead of extensive sea trials in UK waters before shipping to China where the sailing programme will continue from February 2014. The plan is that by early April the race crew will sail ‘Dongfeng’ back to Europe as part of the training programme.
'Our Team Dongfeng family is beginning to grow,' said Dubois. 'The experienced Graham Tourrell is working with us as Boat Captain, Marine Derrien from France is in place as Shore Manager, we have a Chinese intern already inside the team providing an invaluable bridge with our Chinese partner, and we’re working closely with Lingling Liu, Head of Media and PR China, for the Volvo Ocean Race. We are building a strong mixed Western/Chinese team that we can proud of and demonstrate the ethos of our campaign,' concluded Dubois.
Volvo Ocean Race website