Skipper, Charles Caudrelier invited Armel Le Cléac’h and Thomas Coville to compete in the Tour de Belle-Ile with his Dongfeng Race Team crew today. The team, who are currently preparing for the Volvo Ocean Race 2017-18, set sail with sunshine, smiles and no pressure on their shoulders this morning, with the wind also picking up at just the right moment to make for a perfect day of racing. At 15:44 GMT, the V065 Dongfeng was first to cross the finish line in the monohull category. For the international crew, who will be taking on the most extreme crewed round the world race in six months’ time, days like today are a delight.
Charles Caudrelier, skipper of Dongfeng Race Team: “We spent a dream day together circumnavigating Belle-Ile with a little breeze but not too much, as well as a fantastic team. We had some nice, competent guests and it was fun to share our ‘Dongfeng world’ with the sailors. Thomas is familiar with the Volvo Ocean Race, as we won it together in 2012. Armel is more used to single-handed racing and I think he enjoyed sailing in crewed configuration and just focusing on the navigation. It was very relaxed, but also good training, as you always learn something when you’re at sea.”
Armel Le Cléac’h, skipper of Banque Populaire and winner of the Vendée Globe 2016-17: “The Volvo Ocean Race around Belle-Ile was really fantastic. It’s the first time I’ve been sailing in competition mode again since the finish of the Vendée Globe and it was a friendly way to get back into it, in ideal conditions with no pressure. We had a great laugh and when you laugh it’s a sure sign that it’s going well. You really get the sense that there’s a superb understanding among Charles’ entourage on board Dongfeng and that’s essential for their eight-month round the world race. They’re all talented and the mix of nationalities and sexes, French and Anglo-Saxon guys and girls, really works and they clearly hit it off.”
Thomas Coville, skipper of Sodebo Ultim’ and solo round the world record-holder on a multihull since December 2016: “On the Volvo Ocean Race, every day should be like this! Ideal conditions and, truly, a superb team on board Dongfeng. Charles and I have some very fond memories of the Volvo Ocean Race, which we won with Franck Cammas. I was right back in that atmosphere today. It’s hard work, but after the manoeuveres there’s always time for a little joke. I’m impressed by the pairing made up of Marie Riou and Carolijn Brouwer, who hold interesting and important positions in the crew. For his part, Charles is the number cruncher and taps them out perfectly. On top of that you have the rigour of the Anglo-Saxons, who work with the same clockwork precision on the Tour de Belle-Ile as they will at the start of the Volvo Ocean Race. They’re real pros and I’m a fan of this attitude. Then we have Kevin Escoffier, who forms the link between all of the above and is fun and extremely competent. It was a delight. Thanks for the invitation Charles!”