Dongfeng Race Team finishes a strong second in Alicante In-Port Race
“It was good to get back to the top of the fleet. I’m very happy about this and well done to MAPFRE.” – Charles Caudrelier
After a year of training and preparation, the Volvo Ocean Race 2017-18 finally got underway today with a testing In-Port Race in light conditions off the Spanish resort of Alicante.
Racing in front of thousands of spectators watching from on shore and on a flotilla of spectator boats, Charles Caudrelier and his crew on Dongfeng sailed a smart race to finish second behind MAPFRE skippered by Xabi Fernandez.
Caudrelier and navigator Pascal Bidégorry picked their way around a tricky racecourse, on the red and white Volvo Ocean 65 sponsored by Dongfeng Motor Corporation, to take the runner’s up spot. Vestas 11th Hour Racing skippered by Charlie Enright was close behind in third place with Team Brunel skippered by Bouwe Bekking fourth.
Speaking after docking at the Alicante Race Village, Caudrelier was pleased with his first taste of competition in the 2017-18 Volvo Ocean Race. “I’m very happy about this day and well done to MAPFRE,” he said.
“We worked hard and we needed a good result because the last one – the Prologue – was not as good as we expected. It was good to get back to the top of the fleet today. Even though the conditions were a bit difficult, we managed to do that.”
The Frenchman said the key moment in the race came on the second downwind leg of three, when he and his crew got past Vestas 11th Hour Racing to take second place, a position they held to the finish.
“We passed Vestas downwind with very good speed,” Caudrelier explained. “After that, we created a small gap between us and them so it was easier because we could sail without disturbed air from the other boats.”
Chinese sailor Chen Jinhao, also known as Horace, said the race was all about trying to complete manoeuvres and tactical options smoothly. “When we started we were not in the lead but we learnt and improved a lot. We are trying to keep it simple and avoid making any mistakes,” he said.
“We tried to focus on boatspeed and tactics. Pascal (Bidégorry) made a good decision and then we gained a bit each time until we finished in second. It was a good start and now we are looking forward to the first offshore leg.”
French crew member Marie Riou was relieved to emerge with a strong result on a day when it was easy to lose position in light wind conditions. “It was a good day because we finished second,” she said with a broad smile.
“We had a nice start. It was a bit tricky on the first upwind and first downwind legs but we stayed focused throughout the race. We managed to comeback and finished just after MAPFRE, so it is a good result for us.”
Returning to the Race Village, where thousands of race fans had gathered, Riou was thrilled by the loud welcome from Dongfeng Race Team’s many supporters in Alicante. “The atmosphere is awesome. There were lots of people so it is really great to come back to the pontoon to see people supporting us,” she said.
The In-Port Races do not count towards the overall score in the Volvo Ocean Race itself, but if there is a tie between teams at the end of the race then the team that finishes higher up the ranking in the In-Port Races will prevail.
With the first In-Port Race now completed the focus shifts to the first leg of the Volvo Ocean Race, from Alicante to the Portuguese capital Lisbon, which starts on Sunday October 22nd.
Follow Dongfeng Race Team’s progress in leg one and all the build-up via our website or social media channels, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
Ranking for the V065 fleet – MAPFRE In-Port Race
1 – MAPFRE 🇪🇸. Skipper, Xabi Fernández 0:54:41
2- Dongfeng Race Team 🇨🇳. Skipper, Charles Caudrelier +1:28
3- Vestas 11th Hour Racing 🇺🇸. Skipper, Charlie Enright +2:19
4- Team Brunel 🇳🇱. Skipper, Bouwe Bekking +2:35
5- Team Sun Hung Kai/Scallywag 🇭🇰. Skipper, David Witt +3:29
6 – team AkzoNobel 🇳🇱. Skipper, to be announced +3:52
7 – Turn the Tide of Plastic 🇫🇲. Skipper, Dee Caffari +5:07
Crew on board today
Charles Caudrelier (FRA, skipper/helm)
Pascal Bidégorry (FRA, tactics)
Daryl Wislang (NZL, watch)
Stuart Bannatyne (NZL, watch)
Jérémie Beyou (FRA, watch)
Carolijn Brouwer (NL, trim)
Marie Riou (FRA, trim)
Jack Bouttell (GBR/AUS, bow)
Chen Jinhao/Horace (CHN, bow)