The Chinese team, exclusively sponsored by the Wuhan-based car and truck manufacturer Dongfeng Motor Corporation, and skippered by Charles Caudrelier of France, thus became the first Chinese-flagged entry ever to win the Volvo Ocean Race.
Speaking at the team’s final campaign press conference in The Hague, Team Director Bruno Dubois said the values of the sailing team perfectly reflected those of its sponsor.
“Over five years and two editions of the Volvo Ocean Race, we have challenged the world’s strongest offshore competitors with a determined team spirit which perfectly mirrored Dongfeng’s core values,” Dubois told an audience including executives from Dongfeng Motor Corporation and Chinese journalists.
“It is all about trust, care and love, and it is all about being professional, progressive and integrated. The only difference between us is that Dongfeng’s offices are based in Wuhan while ours is based around four oceans and seven continents.”
Dubois added that he believes the impact the team has made has now grown beyond the boundaries of sport. “Dongfeng Race Team is not only a sports project any more, but a trademark. It has become a sub-brand of Dongfeng Motor Corporation and has became a global story that has been spread around in all of the stopovers,” he said.
Dubois said he hoped that the Chinese company would continue to build on its success in the Volvo Ocean Race with future activities not only in subsequent editions of the race but in its commitment to helping the sport of sailing develop in China.
“We hope that Dongfeng Race Team will continue in the Volvo Ocean Race and that it continues to be the platform for Dongfeng Motor Corporation to invite more partners, clients, media and the public on board to fulfill the Belt & Road strategy initiated by the Chinese central government to go sailing together on the five oceans,” he said. “This is a good platform and we have achieved a good result together, but the best is yet to come.”
A spokesman for Dongfeng Motor Corporation confirmed that the company will remain committed to helping sailing grow in China. He said that the success of Dongfeng Race Team had made a big impact in helping to raise awareness around the globe of the Dongfeng brand.
“We would like to congratulate Dongfeng Race Team on its excellent performance in the Volvo Ocean Race,” he said. “This team started back in 2013 with our young Chinese sailors and then finished third overall in the 2014-15 race – now it has reached the top of the podium.
“Around the world millions of people have watched the success of our sailors – either visiting the stopover ports or following the race in the media and online -and we are delighted that Dongfeng is now an established international brand as a result. We know that sailing is taking off in China and we remain committed to seeing the sport develop, inspired by people like Chen Jinhao (Horace) and Xue Liu (Black).”
Addressing the press conference, Chen Jinhao (Horace) said the victory of Dongfeng Race Team was a significant milestone for China. “What we have done is set light a great beacon for sailing in China. I fervently believe that we can now inspire millions of Chinese of all ages to follow the sport and take it up themselves,” he said.
Horace also thanked Dongfeng for its support. “They gave us the tools and the support and the trust we needed to take on some great opponents and beat them,” he said. “They put their trust in us over two races and more than four years of training and racing to achieve our goal – and we hope that this great company will continue to invest in the sport of sailing in the future.”
Charles Caudrelier said he and his team were proud to have added, in a small way, to China’s long and rich maritime history. “We have tasted the sweetness of victory, but the impact of our success in China where our sport, especially offshore, is still in its relative infancy, has yet to sink in,” he said.
Caudrelier added: “In five short years we - and by ‘we’ I mean the sailing team, our Chinese sailors, our shore team, Dongfeng Motor Corporation and China - have gone from outsiders to champions of the oceanic sail racing world. Let’s build on this wonderful achievement to ensure continued success for all of us and for other Chinese competitors in the future in this most arduous and challenging of man’s endeavours.”
The team was managed on behalf of Dongfeng Motor Corporation by OC Sport, the international sports management company owned by Groupe Telegramme that specialises in sailing, cycling and outdoor athletic events.
In a statement following their race win, OC Sport co-chief executives Hervé Favre and Rémi Duchemin, sent this message to the sailing team: “We followed you during nine months and your journey has been inspirational for all of us. Your victory is the result of long hours, relentless action and perseverance. It shows that, in the end, hard work pays off and this is an example for all of us.
“And what a fantastic result for China and Dongfeng in particular,” they added. “This victory will be a game-changer for sailing in China, and Horace, Black and the other Chinese sailors and team members can be extremely proud of what has been done in the last five years.”
Dongfeng Race Team’s success in the Volvo Ocean Race was built on its consistency of performance over 10 competitive legs and eight months of competition against six other crews. Caudrelier’s team achieved seven podium finishes and one leg win, saving the best until last when it clinched the stage from Gothenburg and secured the overall title as it did so.