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the next chapter

Our final part of Shanghai Sailor’s interview with Bruno Dubois, Dongfeng Race Team, Team Director…
S.S. And are you aware of the reaction in China, the sailing community and the wider population?
B.D. We didn’t see much of what has happened. We have a couple of owners who are very happy and we have had an official letter from the sailing federation so that makes the project really official and part of Chinese culture but I really hope this project will help bring in new sailors and new owners, bring an excitement amongst the people to be involved in sailing.
S.S And what about the future of the race, it is now in the hands of Richard and Johan?
B.D. That’s something where I have seen a lot of comments from people and everyone has their own idea what the IMOCA is, what the Volvo is. Too much spray, not enough spray, not enough emotion, too many people cry. It’s amazing how many people who are not involved or do not even come to stopovers have an idea of what sailing should be – it’s quite amazing but there’s one thing that I realised in this race is that we should not, this race, Volvo Ocean Race, it is how close the boats finished, it is amazing speed and the boat is totally not relevant at all but the fact that we finished that way is dramatic, we should keep that. Somehow the boats have to finish close.
On the other hand we have the development part of the sailing business. AS a sailmaker, and I know I made my name by making better sails than other people in some classes. But that costs a lot of money and that would probably bring problems like we had on the Volvo 70 before or the IMOCA. So can we find a middle ground, can we find a one design like the Super 60 designed by Guillaume Verdier take the hull, the base, one design and we can play with the sail plan, we can play with the foils.
S.S. So a little like the America’s Cup idea where some elements are fixed?
B.D. Here we have to do it for costs and also to bring the boats close and for a team like Turn the Tide on Plastic finishing so close that’s the only way to keep the sponsor happy. For me lately I change my mind. I was 100% for Custom development but if you really want to have 10-12 boats we really need to find a way to reduce the costs but keep the door open.
S.S. Perhaps a very tight box rule
B.D. Yeah, yeah, it’s a problem because if you decide to go one design that means that we keen the other designers out, they will not be happy so they could be happy to develop the sail plan, to develop the foils. So we have meetings now with Volvo. They are thinking about keeping the 65 also. Maybe we could put foils on the 65. That would be fine, but should we do that? I’m not sure.
S.S. It’s all up in the air at the moment.
B.D. I think the IMOCA Class is very much in line to be used but I would really worry about the mix between the existing IMOCA designed for the Vendee Globe and the Volvo Ocean Race because none of those guys except Juan K know how hard the Volvo guys are pushing and if you have to slow down all the time like you had to do on a Volvo 70, that’s not good. Pushing like we have done here, I think you should be able to push to go to 650 and 700 miles with those new boats.
S.S. So bottom line is the boats need to be strong enough?
B.D. Strong, and then come over to the point that it would be great to be able to use the boats for the Volvo AND the Vendee Globe. My theory is if we do a Volvo boat and we work on good sail crossover and good performance data like we’ve done and pretty much everybody has done on these boats here a Vendee Globe sailor can take the boat and make it lighter and make it more feasible for him and use that data and push the boat I think he will go quicker than somebody who’s got a light boat and doesn’t spend time sailing.
S.S. So it could have a positive spin on the Vendee as well?
B.D. Yeah, I think this way, taking a Volvo boat going to the Vendee would be easier than taking a Vendee boat and coming to the Volvo
S.S. Because the Vendee boats break?
B.D. No, it’s not breaking, it’s just that the structure is not the same, you cannot have the same sails, the same mast, everything needs to be stronger because they are going to push harder or we decide not to push any more to sail Vendee Globe way but with five people on board. I’m not sure that’s the way, the Anglo Saxon way we want to go. We are talking about it, we will see how it goes.
S.S. Thank you so much for your time, your openness and honesty, good luck with whatever comes next
B.D. We’ll see, together I’m sure We’ll see when the challenge comes, see what they have to say.