Dongfeng first to ease sheets at the Fastnet Rock
“It’s good, rounding the Fastnet is always fantastic…it was not easy to be the first here.” Charles Caudrelier
After a night of close-quarters tacking in the Celtic Sea into a 15-knot northwesterly breeze Dongfeng Race Team, which had been in second place in the seven-strong Volvo Ocean Race fleet, was the first to round the famous Fastnet Rock this morning.
Charles Caudrelier and his crew managed to overhaul former class leader AkzoNobel and were the first to ease sheets and begin the leg back to Plymouth with the wind now behind Dongfeng and set to freshen as they head towards the Isles of Scilly.
At 08.30 local time this morning Dongfeng had 246.3 miles left to sail to the finish off Plymouth and was two miles ahead of AkzoNobel, skippered by Simeon Tienpont, with the Spanish entry MAPFRE, skippered by Xabi Fernández, another half a mile astern.
On Dongfeng there were broad smiles and a thumbs-up from navigator Pascal Bidégorry as the crew worked the boat downwind for the first time in this 605-mile classic and with the famous Fastnet lighthouse now behind them.
“It’s good, rounding the Fastnet is always fantastic. It is a nice day, not a very windy one. It was not easy to be the first here. We have had a great fight with the Spanish and with AkzoNobel since the beginning of the race and then the whole fleet compressed in a really light spot,” said skipper, Charles Caudrelier.
“Now this is a long downwind phase and it will probably be very challenging, because the wind is very shifty and the other boats at the back will try something. So it will be very hard to stay ahead before we reach the Isles of Scilly. After that, things will be more clear.”
Marie Riou, who is taking part in the Rolex Fastnet Race for the first time, was also glad to round the rock in first place. “We passed the rock in daylight so I saw it and that was nice. I’m really happy to be here. Now, we have to go downwind and stay focused until the finish line. We overtook team AkzoNobel during the night so we are in first place which is good, but there is still a long way to go. But this is a good start and it’s good to be in first place, really exciting!”
Ranking for the V065 fleet at 09:42 (UTC)
1 – Dongfeng Race Team (China), Charles Caudrelier
2- team Akzo Nobel (Netherlands), Simeon Tienpont
3- MAPFRE (Spain), Xabi Fernández
4- Scallywag (Hong Kong), David Witt
5- Team Brunel (Netherlands), Bouwe Bekking
6 – Vestas-11th hour racing (USA/Denmark), Charlie Enright
7 – Turn the Tide of Plastic (International), Dee Caffari
Track the fleet here
LEG ZERO – ROLEX FASTNET RACE
Crew on board
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)
Volvo Ocean Race Leg Zero timeline (local time)
9 August, ETA in Plymouth, dock in at Mount Batten
10 August, 13:30 Plymouth-Saint Malo start
11 August, 9:00, ETA Saint Malo, fleet in the ‘Bassin Vauban’
12 August, 9:45, Pro-Am race start
13 August, 13:00, Saint Malo-Lisbon start
15 or 16 August: ETA in Lisbon
Each of the four races will be scored equally on a high points scoring system. 1st place/8 points; 2nd/7pts; 3rd/6pts; 4th/5pts; 5th/4pts; 6th/3pts; 7th/2pts