Volvo Ocean Race - Thrilling adventure for Academy Squad sailors

Dongfeng Race Team sailing off the coast of Hong Kong
It has so far been an exciting adventure for the selected eight Academy Squad sailors as they raced from Hong Kong to Sanya, China in two Jeanneau Sun Fast 3200’s. Split into two teams they have been fiercely competing against each other for the past 48 hours in the South China Sea as part of their offshore training with Dongfeng Race Team.

First team to arrive in Sanya at their Official Training Base at Serenity Marina was Team Number 2 with coach Nick Cherry and sailors Yang Jiru, Cheng Ying Kit, Shen Sheng, Lui Xue and Onboard Reporter Yuan Xiao. Sanya will now be home for Dongfeng Race Team and the Academy Squad as the training begins in earnest for the sailors in preparation for the start of the 2014-15 Volvo Ocean Race, backed by Dongfeng Commercial Vehicle Company Limited.

Dongfeng Race Team sailing off the coast of Hong Kong

It was a picture of exhausted faces but smiles all round this afternoon as the Dongfeng Race Team Academy sailors arrived in Sanya to a warm welcome from the local community ahead of Chinese New Year. The two teams set off from Hong Kong late Monday morning to embark on this 48-hour mini offshore adventure to Sanya aboard the Sun Fast 3200’s. The sailors were split into two teams with one coach and one onboard reporter per team. Winning Team 2 was led by coach Nick Cherry who had this to say, 'Both Yang and Liu hadn’t sailed overnight before and even though we were going downwind which is usually easier there was quite a big swell and they were both ill on the first night, which is normal. It’s all about how you deal with it really and they both dealt with it very well, we’re very pleased to have arrived at Serenity Marina first.' Runners-up were Team 1 lead by coach John Thorn with Wu Liang, Zhang Yiran, Chen Jin Hao and Liu Ming, with female sailor Li Li trialling as their onboard reporter.

This offshore challenge was to test the sailor’s teamwork and ability to cope at sea but mainly it focuses on providing them with important offshore sailing experience. 'The Jeanneau Sun Fast is a fun and versatile boat perfectly adapted to offshore regattas, fully crewed or shorthanded. It is therefore the ideal training platform for Dongfeng Race Team,' explains Team Director Bruno Dubois. Jeanneau recently became an Official Supplier to Dongfeng Race Team. Paul Blanc from Jeanneau Asia Pacific Limited explains why Jeanneau chose to become a part of the Dongfeng Race Team project, 'Although inshore races are developing along the Chinese coasts, there is yet a lot to do to bring China onto the International offshore racing scene. The Dongfeng Race Tea, campaign for the Volvo Ocean Race is a major project, as it will bring a significant number of Chinese sailors to their highest level yet. This presents a great opportunity for the popularity of sailing in China to grow, and with its Sun Fast range, Jeanneau is willing to further build on this legacy towards the development of Chinese offshore sailing.'

Dongfeng Race Team sailing off the coast of Hong Kong

Academy sailor Yang Jiru who raced with the winning team was happy to reach Sanya and this Chinese New Year marks the start of a new chapter in his life: 'I am so happy to be back in time for Chinese New Year. This is the one time my whole family get together so I’m glad I didn’t have to wait another year to see them all together! This Chinese New Year is especially important for me. In the past, during this particular time, I haven’t known where my future will take me or what my exact objectives were but now I know. With Dongfeng Race Team I have something to work towards and something to push myself for. This New Year is a new start for me, I am determined to become part of the final race team. This is the year of hope for me'. All eight sailors have an exciting 2014 ahead as they leave behind their normal day to day lives to join the Dongfeng Race Team Academy Squad. They all carry the hope of becoming part of the final race crew and having the honour of racing for China in the Volvo Ocean Race. The final crew will be selected early June. A date much anticipated by these young sailors.

Dongfeng Race Team will be holding a final round of selection trials on the eighth and ninth of February. The team have a new list of Chinese applicants they will trial and should these applicants be successful they too will join the Dongfeng Race Team Academy Squad. It is from this squad the Chinese members of the final race crew will be chosen.

Volvo Ocean Race
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