Blessed by the weather, UBOX storms to Hobart to claim third place overall on handicap

Charles Caudrelier and a mixed French and Chinese crew aboard the Cookson 50, UBOX, reached Hobart in Tasmania earlier today at the end of a storming Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race that saw them finish – provisionally – in third place on handicap.

Caudrelier, who will skipper the Chinese entry Dongfeng in the 2017-18 Volvo Ocean Race and who was using the Australian classic to test out crew, was delighted to have completed his first Hobart in good shape, his white monohull crossing the line in 13th place on the water.

“I think we were very lucky with the weather. The last day we paid a bit, but it was good for our Chinese rookies. They did a very good job,” he said as his crew celebrated on the dockside at Hobart after a slow final few miles up the Derwent River to the line.

Like the rest of the 88-boat fleet UBOX reveled in the mainly downwind conditions off the new South Wales coast and across Bass Strait. Race winner, the super-maxi Perpetual Loyal, took just one day, 13 hours and 31 minutes to complete the 628-nautical mile course, slicing nearly five hours off the race record.

On UBOX Caudrelier had a big communications challenge to marshall his 12-strong crew made up of French sailors and a group of young Chinese rookies with very little offshore experience. But they managed to handle the powerful conditions without mishap.

The 42-year-old Frenchman was happy to have completed the race and with his team’s performance overall. “The start from Sydney was truly magical, with hundreds of boats around. The finish was awesome too, with the dockside rammed with people in Hobart and a festive atmosphere, even though it was pouring with rain,” he said.

“The start of the race was very fast before a transition that we had to negotiate during the first night. It was a small low pressure centre that we managed to deal with pretty well. Then we were released in 20 knots downwind – a great day’s sailing and rare conditions for this race,” Caudrelier added.

Caudrelier was content with the team’s performance on handicap for a crew of mixed abilities that had come together just for the race. “This Sydney-Hobart was great training for us in our preparation for the Volvo Ocean Race. It’s good to race offshore because it’s hard, because you have to get used to being cold, sleeping off watch, not eating a lot and living in discomfort, but the group is progressing well under these conditions.”

UBOX is owned by the Chinese entrepreneur Wang Bin and the entry in the Sydney-Hobart was part of the training build-up for Dongfeng Race Team as it prepares for next year’s Volvo Ocean Race. The Dongfeng team’s Volvo Ocean 65 race yacht is currently in re-fit in Lisbon in Portugal but will emerge from the shed in mid-January, ready to begin the campaign proper in February.

While Caudrelier and his team were surfing toward Tasmania, his compatriot Thomas Coville was completing his solo non-stop round the world record-breaking voyage on the trimaran Sodebo. Coville completed the journey in 49 days, smashing the existing record by almost a week.

“It is such a deserved moment of glory for Thomas,” commented Caudrelier who crewed alongside Coville in the Volvo Ocean Race in 2011-12 on board race-winner Groupama. “There are few sailors in the world capable of pushing a large multihull solo and holding that pace. Thomas’s achievement is a reward for all the hard work put in by him and his team and Sodebo. This makes the story even more beautiful.”