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Volvo OR champion's Shore Team manager on China SailGP

by Axel Capron, tipandshaft.com 22 Nov 2018 16:02 PST 23 November 2018
China SailGP in training in the F50 off Whangarei © SailGP

Bruno Dubois Team manager with the winning Dongfeng Race Team in the last Volvo Ocean Race, has remained under the Chinese flag as he occupies the same role in the new, China SailGP team.

The China SailGP team was announced last week with former World Match Racing champion, Phil Robertson as skipper and helmsman.

Bruno Dubois talked with Axel Capron of French sailing website and newsletter tipandshaft.com

How did you find yourself at the helm of SailGP China Team?

At the end of the Volvo Ocean Race, Russell Coutts called me to ask if I was interested in playing the same role as Dongfeng for the Chinese SailGP team. I thought a little and we quickly came to an agreement. It's nice to be able to continue with a Dongfeng team part, with ways to do things well.

How was the choice of skipper Phil Robertson?

Phil Robertson has been representing China in match-racing for six years with China One Ningbo . And just like us with Dongfeng, he won a lot of races under the colors of this country. Russell asked me in July if I agreed to meet him and then everything was done very quickly. Between the match racing and the Extreme Sailing Series, he made the right classes for this new circuit and he will compete in parallel circuit SuperFoiler in 2019 to continue training.

Have you ever sailed on the F50?

Yes, we were the first to sail the new boat in New Zealand. For 15 days, we shared the boat of the Americans . All teams will run until December, it is a system like the Volvo with a central technical service, each team then having its own technical team for the maintenance of F50 which are fully monotypes. The boats have been completely redone, there is no more hydraulics to go up and down the fins, everything goes through an electric battery system; the new foils are very stable and look more like Team New Zealand's. On board, there is a helmsman, two grinders, a pilot who takes care of the height control and a wing adjuster. There is not really a tactician because the races will be much shorter than on the Cup, they will look like what we see on the Extreme Sailing Series in GC32, it will be more of the combat sport than the match-racing !

What are the means of the team and who supports them?

Larry Ellison pays for all six teams . His plan is to launch the series at first, so he vouches for everything for three to five years, the goal being to create value to sell sponsorship on each boat. But the teams will not carry a commercial name. Each has the same operating budget of $ 5 million they manage in their own way. We, for example, need to have more Chinese sailors, because the nationality rule requires first to have 40% of the Chinese crew, two next year, then three in 2020 and four in 2021. This means that there is a real development work to be done that requires recruiting foreigners to train and coach Chinese sailors. Then, we are creating an academy in China , with a Flying Phantom, access to AC45 Oracle, Moth ... And we also aim to host a Grand Prix in 2020.

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