With just under a year to go to the Start of the 2017-2018 Volvo Ocean Race, at a Press Conference in Wuhan, China, home of the Dongfeng Motor Company their entry into the next edition of the Race was announced.
In a slightly different structure to the last race where the team was sponsored by Dongfeng Trucks with sub-sponsors or Aeolus Tyres and the City of Shiyan, this time the parent company Dongfeng Group will be the naming sponsor of Dongfeng Race Team. This should quietly end the comments of this being in any way a “works team”.
Dongfeng Group are a Global Fortune 100 company in the automotive sector and produce in excess of 1.5m vehicles per year.
Commercial over, what about the team?
Charles Caudrelier returns as skipper having successfully led the team on the water, and who could argue that a podum finish first time round was not success, especially when it included a Southern Ocean mast breakage followed by a race against time to re-rig the boat in time for the next leg.
He brings with him Pascal, Kevin and Thomas from the precious team along with Black who became something of a celebrity in his home country after the last race.
The Team Director is once again Bruno Dubois with the important link between team and sponsor once again filled by Account Director Li Li.
Collectively the team brings to the 2017-2018 race a huge amount of experience in every department from Bruno Dubois, formerly of North Sails and, of course the last Volvo campaign, Charles Caudrelier winner with Groupama and podium skipper with Dongfeng last time round, several crewmembers from the last campaign and a shore team where many have also been round the planet before, if only stopover to stopover. They must surely now have gone from dark horse to potential favourites.
Further details will follow as they emerge but this is no throw together ‘second go’. The team is well funded, experienced, the boringly frequent “Chinese rookies” phrase will hopefully now disappear from the writing of those who lack imagination as Horace & Black now both have ‘000,s of sea miles under their belt and take it from me – expectations amongst the Chinese sailing community are high.