inside baseball

Part two of Shanghai Sailor’s inter view with  Bruno Dubois, Dongfeng Team Director
S.S. OK, so race overall, gotta be far and away the closest race in the history of the Volvo and then that last leg. What about that last leg?
B.D. Well that last leg I saw the guys leaving the dock in Gothenburg very determined to do their own race. Not doing the race by controlling Mapfre and Brunel because there were two boats. Somehow it was better. Also better to start with one point behind because we didn’t have any pressure, we had to beat them and that’s it. To beat them we had to do our own race. The moment we decide to go to the east side of the TSS along the German coast, a decision while the other one changed their mind and I think we stuck to our decision and it worked. Sometimes there is very little difference between having success or no success like was seen in Newport but this time the wind didn’t change, nothing changed and we made it, and very close so that was very good but it would have been interesting – I’m really happy to win that leg – but it would have been interesting to finish second behind Akzonobel and to win the Volvo Ocean Race without winning any leg. That would have been fantastic.
But we hadn’t won one and that was the best one to win. But it shows that consistency is super important and we were not the favourite at the start. Mapfre was the favourite then along the race Burling and Bowwe Bekking they became the second favourite and we were still underdog. Two reasons I think because it’s a Chinese project and because we have Chinese crew and because we have French crew and because French are not seen in the Anglo Saxon world because it is an Anglo Saxon race so we are the underdog and that is pretty cool to start the last leg in that way because even though Charles put the pressure on himself, on his shoulders but consistency was important and I’m glad because that’s the way I am also. I’m a diesel, I like to run in the morning, not the evening because I am tired but I take time for me.
S.S. Are you able to actually switch off at times, I don’t believe it?
B.D. No but I take time to develop. For example I stayed 28 years with North Sails and I stay a long time sailing with Mike Golding and Ellen McArthur, it takes time to develop a relationship and its consistency and that’s what think is the most important, never give up and be consistent.
S.S. Well you proved that. You were there or thereabouts the whole race, Mapfre had a great first half then had problems in the Southern Ocean just like Dongfeng had in the last race. Brunel started badly then came back strong while Dongfeng just had that thread all the way through of being up near the front most of the time.
B.D. I think we had done a couple of bad legs but during those bad legs we have been near the front most of the time. I think about Newport when we arrived in the bay first, arrived in Gothenburg we were second at the top, first at the Fastnet, second off Scotland, we are a major actor in the leading positions in each leg so that’s fine. But we made mistakes and Charles was a bit mad at those mistakes that he made.
S.S. He’s very self critical isn’t he?
B.D. Yeah, I hope now, this race, by winning with Franck Cammas, he finished third last time and first now as a skipper he will be able to relieve himself a little from this pressure. He deserves it, that’s for sure.
S.S. That’s one point I was going to raise. He’s elevated himself to be one of the greats of this race.
B.D. Yeah but he’s not going to do that because, you know, he’s not the kind of guy who’s going to turn around when he sees a journalist, he doesn’t have a radar for journalists, for camera, he’s not like that.
S.S. He’s his own man
B.D. Yes, and he’s not looking for that, the way the world is right now I think you need to put your face in front of the camera quickly in order to be seen everywhere and he’s not like that so I doubt he will work on being a legend even if I think he is and the fact that he is able to talk about this lows and highs, you know he is a very shy guy and to be able to talk about that is quite strange because he doesn’t work like that. You know if he was only shy he would normally keep that for himself. WE worked with Mark Tuner last time and Mark taught us to open our heart, be open with the public and Charles did that and he is OK to talk about that and it was interesting when I saw the video just when they arrived and he is, for me one of the top guys for sure. But he is not self promoting, yeah, he’s good.
S.S. Talking about other crew members. Ladies on the boat! There was a lot of discussion before the race of ladies on the boat. How do you think they have added to  the whole thing.
B.D. Difficult for me because I have been sailing with women on board. The first time I sailed with a woman was during the Quebec – St Malo in 1984 and then I sailed with Ellen McArthur for many years, Dee Caffari I sailed with, and for me, I am used to that. I have no problem with that and not even asking is it good or is it bad to have girls on board, it is a question that never comes to me. And I can understand it comes to the mind of some people so for that reason I think it was important to but it through and I think that Mark and his team has done a really good job to promote that and I don’t think it should change.
I wish we should have no rule and the guys  and the girls should be selected based on their competence not because they are a woman. But it is like the under 30, if they hadn’t put the rule in it would have been hard to them to get selected so I think it is good to keep it that way.
S.S. So where next for Bruno Dubois?
B.D. I don’t know. One thing for sure I am going to try to help the team, if we can to develop the Dongfeng 3.0 and I’m going to take that time for the next 6 months to decide what I am going to do. I think because I have been busy a lot with North Sails then jump from Dongfeng to America’s Cup to Dongfeng I need to take the next 6 months to settle down to get my act together to find the energy again to start again to do another, I would like to do another Volvo campaign. The way and which format we can do it, a two boat programme with China, that would be fantastic. There’s so much things going to happen in the next few months and few weeks that I think it \’s better to wait officially that until July, August, September I don’t take any decision because it is better to wrap up this project and we need to satisfy the sponsor and Chinese sailing community and if we do that well then an offer will come from China and we will do the job properly.
S.S. That leads on quite nicely to coverage and sponsor. My feeling is that the sponsor is more than happy with the job that you have done for them.
B.D. I think and I hope so. It’s always when you win. We saw in the last campaign that each time that you win a leg the media coverage went up, not just I China but everywhere. The consistency without a win means there is no need for special rewards on that media wise during the race so it is difficult. So we are not average we are in the top element but there is no peak but now the peak is at the end and so it will be way higher than the other ones so now is the time to makes sure the coverage is very high and they will be happy with that. The question is that with Volvo Cars being a likely sponsor next time would Dongfeng wish to compete in an event where one of their competitors is the sponsor? I have no idea. It’s all emotional. We’ll see. Part 3 to come…