Dongfeng Race Team will be one of the contenders in the 2017-18 edition of the Volvo Ocean Race it was announced today. With the 42-year-old Frenchman Charles Caudrelier once again at the wheel and with Bruno Dubois as Team Director, the Chinese-flagged team will be 100% backed by the Dongfeng Motor Corporation based in Wuhan in China's Hubei province.
© Bu Duomen / Dongfeng Race Team / Volvo Ocean Race
The goal is to challenge for overall honours in the 2017-18 edition following the team's remarkable third place finish overall in the last Volvo Ocean Race in 2014-15.
The next race, which starts from Alicante in Spain in October next year, visits 11 landmark cities in five continents over eight-months and covers 45,000 nautical miles of ocean including some of the most inhospitable waters on earth.
The mixed international crew, which will be announced in due course, will include Chinese sailors from the first Dongfeng campaign plus world class offshore ocean racing sailors from France and elsewhere.
Dongfeng Race Team will be managed for the second successive Volvo Ocean Race by OC Sport, the global sports marketing and events company that specialises in professional sailing and outdoor sports. While trying to achieve its full potential on the water, Dongfeng Race Team will also help once again to promote and showcase the sport of offshore ocean racing in China.
Speaking at a press conference to announce the campaign in Wuhan today, Charles Caudrelier made no secret of his ultimate aim. "Everybody's goal is to do better and for sure our goal is not to come second," he said. "Last time we were not the favourites because we had less experience than the others and we were a new team. This time we are one of the first teams to get going and we have everything we need."
But the Frenchman added that the last race, when Dongfeng was dismasted in the Southern Ocean, had taught him that nothing can be taken for granted. "We have no illusions about how tough this race is, how unfair it can be at times and how tough our opponents will be – we will try to do our best and work as hard as possible for the result we want," he said.
Bruno Dubois welcomed the return of a major Chinese sponsor: "It is a testament to the success of the first campaign that Dongfeng Motor Corporation will provide all of the backing for our second entry into the Volvo Ocean Race. Last time the sponsorship was with Dongfeng Trucks alone whereas now we have a global deal with Dongfeng Motor Corporation which marks a significant upscaling of the project," he said.
"The company was new to sports sponsorship during the 2014-15 edition, but our successes both on and off the water, including having more measured media value from the race than any other team, demonstrated the real global value of this partnership," Dubois added
Dongfeng Race Team won plaudits in the 2014-15 race for its frank approach to story-telling in conventional and digital media and this campaign will be no different with a strong emphasis on sharing the drama of the race with its fans in China and all around the world. The team will do its best to share the human story of the race – the high points and the challenging moments – as Caudrelier's crew pits its skills and will to succeed against everything that the world's oceans throw at them.
The team has got off to an earlier start than last time around with Caudrelier already having delivered the race boat from Göthenburg to the team base in Lorient (France) and then on to Lisbon where it is now undergoing a full re-fit at the official Volvo Ocean Race Boatyard facility. Team members sailed in the SB20 class world championships in Cascais in Portugal in September and Caudrelier has just finished in second place in the J80 class French national championships as part of his drive to improve his inshore racing expertise. Crew selection for the Volvo Ocean Race is continuing with the next big focus being a team entry in the Sydney-Hobart Race this December.
One big change is that Dongfeng Race Team is expected to include at least one female crew member following rule changes by the Volvo Ocean Race organisers that are designed to encourage participation by women sailors. "From my point of view I am happy about this because it will give some of the best female sailors in the world a chance to compete in the Volvo Ocean Race," Caudrelier said.