Sailing fans may be unaware that Dongfeng is one of China’s largest auto-makers with sales exceeding 1 million units last year so the choice of venue becomes logical rather than surprising.
No longer can they be called “rookies” with more deep water miles under their belts than – well probably most sailors reading this – the three Chinese mainstays of the Dongfeng Race Team podium finish in the last edition of the VOR are back to try and make the two short steps to the top of the pile in the 2017-2018.
Yang Jiru aka Black and Chen Jin Hao aka Horace were at the Shanghai International Expo Center where they were introduced to a packed and enthusiastic crowd with many of Dongfeng Group’s senior management also in attendance. Liu Xue aka Black was on skipper duty at the Sinan Cup Regatta and Jack Boutell ( aka Jack I suppose) was in Europe.
Simultaneously VOR announced the latest team members on their website.
Experience is naturally important but this must closely be followed by continuity and with the same skipper in Charles Caudrelier, same Team Director, Bruno Dubois, Account Director Li Li, Boat captain and technical director in Gringo Tourell and Neil Graham and many more, and now 4 relative youngsters in age terms ALL of whom have some VOR experience and with DFRT shows that it is established team members that dominate the team website both on shore and on the boat.
Proof, if any were needed that this is a stable team where the team dynamics of the last race were also pleasing enough for Team Director Bruno Dubois to bring most of the members back for another lap of the planet. They have collectively experienced success in this event and are more than motivated to go two steps further and be on the stage as winners in 2018
Add to that a couple of very smart pieces of recruiting in Marie Riou and Carolijn Brower and, unlike the 2014-2015 race they are more likely to be seen as front runners rather than underdogs.
So who will be the navigator? And what other smart recruiting will they do or (perhaps in best VOR tradition) are keeping under wraps? I wouldn’t be surprised to see more of the remaining places to be filled by sailors who have pulled on the Dongfeng jersey before but you know as much as I do.
Maybe, in the weeks ahead, will there be more surprises from the Chinese? Who knows? Time will tell, but one things for sure, this time round they will be far from an outside bet.