Cape Town Dongfeng Race team

Friday, 08 December 2017

Dongfeng Race Team scores first win with impressive victory in Cape Town In-Port Race



Dongfeng Race Team skippered by Charles Caudrelier of France scored its first win in the 2017-18 Volvo Ocean Race today when it sailed to a comprehensive victory in a thrilling Cape Town In-Port Race.

Sailing with the same crew line-up that will take on Leg 3 of the race from Cape Town to Melbourne starting on Sunday, Caudrelier and his team made the best of a difficult start and then showed excellent upwind boatspeed as they settled into second place in the early stages.

Approaching the windward mark for the second time, the red and white Volvo Ocean 65 sponsored by Dongfeng Motor Corporation of China overtook the early leader, Vestas 11th Hour Racing, and then raced away to take the win by more than two minutes from second placed MAPFRE, with Team AkzoNobel third.

It was an impressive performance by Caudrelier and his crew on a sparkling day when Table Bay was lit up with white caps and with Table Mountain forming a stunning back-drop.


Image Credit: Eloi Stichelbaut / Dongfeng Race Team



“It is good to have a strong in-shore race ahead of the re-start on Sunday,” said a delighted Caudrelier as Dongfeng came alongside in the Volvo Ocean Race village at the Victoria & Alfred Waterfront. “It is good for the team and the spirit to get this win. We have one day until the re-start and it is good to sail like that ahead of a tough leg.

“The team did a great job,” he added. “Our start was not fantastic but we knew what we wanted to do and we decided to keep on the left of the course. It was the right decision and then after that we did a very good manoeuvre. Then after each subsequent manoeuvre we gained on the others, so it was a full team effort. We have worked so hard to be here so we are really happy.” 

Also on board for the race was Liu Weidong, Standing Committee Member and Deputy General Manager of Dongfeng Automobile Group, who said: “Congratulations to everyone in Dongfeng Race Team. The teamwork on board was impressive to witness at close quarters – the dynamics on the boat among the crew was really good from start to finish.”





The next focus for Caudrelier is the forbidding 6,500-nautical mile Leg 3 when the sailors in Dongfeng Race Team take on the rolling swells and gale force winds of the Roaring Forties in the Southern Indian Ocean as they make their way from South Africa to Australia.

“It’s going to be one of the toughest legs of the Volvo Ocean Race,” said Caudrelier, “but we are ready for it. I think the goal for everybody on Leg 3 is to finish. The next priority after that is not to finish in too bad a placing because it is a double-point scoring leg which means there are only three good places – first, second and third.

“Of course we have come third and second in the first two legs so now we will try to finish first, but I can’t forget what happened to Dongfeng Race Team in the last race in the Southern Ocean when we broke our mast, so it’s a big pressure.”

Dongfeng Race Team lies in third place overall in the main race, two points behind Vestas skippered by Charlie Enright and three points behind MAPFRE skippered by Xabi Fernandez. Caudrelier believes the Spanish team under Fernandez deserves to be at the top of the leaderboard but he is confident that Dongfeng Race Team can make up the deficit.

“You have to concentrate but I think this team is growing and improving and the potential is very big,” added Caudrelier. “I am very optimistic about our prospects – for me the key was to choose good people and I am sure I have done that, so I am very confident we can do better and come back.”

Navigator Pascal Bidegorry says there will be some difficult early decisions as the fleet heads out of Cape Town. The leg looks likely to start in strong winds but then there will be an area of light winds to cross before the boats hook into the first depression heading east towards Australia.

“We are not going to turn left at the Cape of Good Hope and then point straight at Melbourne - that is not the case,” said Bidegorry. “It will not just be about speed-mode in the early stages because I think we will have to take some early options. They may look like small choices from the outside but if you are south or north of the fleet, it will be quite a different angle to the wind and there will be a little difference in the wind strength.”

British-Australian bowman Jack Bouttell is looking forward to his first taste of Southern Ocean racing and the chance to sail to the country of his birth. “It is a first for me to go into the Southern Ocean and there are a lot of mixed stories about it being the best place to sail and the worst place to sail,” he said. 

“It is one of those things that is on every sailors’ list, so I am looking forward to that. But obviously I have some worries about what is going to happen because it is unknown. But it is also great that at the end of it we are sailing into Australia - I was born there so it is pretty cool to sail into there.”

Helping out with duties at the front end of the boat will be Kevin Escoffier, one of France’s most accomplished offshore sailors who sailed on every leg on Dongfeng in the last Volvo Ocean Race and how has now re-joined Dongfeng Race Team.

“I am looking forward to the sailing and to sailing again with friends,” commented Escoffier. “This is a leg we did not have in the last Volvo Ocean Race because we went back north to the sun after Cape Town. This time we will be close to the Kerguelen Islands – the windiest place on earth – and to the ice, so I am really looking forward to the challenge.”

Leg 3 sets sail from Table Bay in Cape Town at 1400 local time on Sunday.


Image Credit: Volvo Ocean Race





In-Port Race du Cap :

1.     Dongfeng Race Team, 57’33’’

2.     MAPFRE à 2’22’’

3.     AkzoNobel à 2’37’’

4.     Vestas 11th Hour Racing à 3’03’’

5.     Turn the Tide on Plastic à 3’33’’

6.     Team Brunel à 3’42’’

7.     Team Sun Hung Kai/Scallywag à 7’13’’

In-Port Series :

1.     MAPFRE 19 points

2.     Dongfeng Race Team 18 points

3.     Team Brunel 13 points

4.     Vestas 11th Hour Racing 12 points

5.     AkzoNobel 11 points

6.     Team Sun Hung Kai/Scallywag 6 points

7.     Turn the Tide on Plastic 5 points

Current Volvo Ocean Race leaderboard after Leg 2  

🇪🇸 -- 14 points 
2. Vestas 11th Hour Racing
🇺🇸  -- 13 points 
3. Dongfeng Race Team 
🇨🇳 -- 11 points
4. team AkzoNobel
🇳🇱 -- 7 points
5. Team Brunel
🇳🇱 – 6 points 
6. Sun Hung Kai/Scallywag 🇭
🇰 -- 5 points 
7. Turn the Tide on Plastic 
🇫🇲 –  2 points 





Onboard footage , C.Caudrelier ITV in

Heli shots, ambiance, ITV