With a spectacular win in the Rolex Fastnet Race, plus a third place in the passage race from Plymouth to St Malo, Caudrelier was happy with his team’s performance in the four warm-up races, with just under 70 days now left until the start of the Volvo Ocean Race proper in Alicante on October 22nd.
“I am happy – we did some nice things,” said Caudrelier after the final part of Leg Zero – the passage race from St Malo to Lisbon - was shortened early this morning due to light winds off Cape Finisterre with Dongfeng in fourth place.
“I think we have good speed and a good spirit on board and I am pretty sure we can do very well. Of course the Spanish team on MAPFRE is very strong, but I am very happy with my team and how we work and how we progressed this week,” added Caudrelier.
Carolijn Brouwer, one of two female crew on Dongfeng, said the Leg Zero races had been a useful chance to put the team’s training to the test in a competitive environment.
“It was good to put a bit of racing rhythm into the team and we are quite happy with the speed of the boat and how we are working,” she said. “There are definitively some improvements in some areas and the good thing is that there is still a couple of months left for us to do that.”
“We all have the same tools to work with in terms of the meteorological information we get. The boats don’t have big differences in terms of speed and when you deviate from the ‘direct route’, there are never big accelerations,” said Bidégorry.
Navigator Pascal Bidégorry reckons Leg Zero only underlined how close the racing is going to be in the Volvo Ocean Race.
“This is a racing mode where you try small options rather than a big radical alternative. We have seen that in the last edition of the race - when you look at the global route of each boat, they all stayed really close all around the world. So we can imagine the same scenario this time,” he added.
Bowman Jack Bouttell agrees – Leg Zero had shown how hard it is to get ahead and stay there in a finely balanced one-design fleet. “The Volvo Ocean Race will be really close and really frustrating for sure, and a really hard battle to be at the front, but it was good to race together. And it was good for the team to have pressure on manoeuvres and pressure on decisions. There is still a lot to do to get ready and we learnt about us and the others in the last two weeks,” he said.
Instead of sailing to Lisbon as originally planned, Dongfeng is now heading to the Spanish Galician resort of Sanxenxo where Dongfeng Race Team and MAPFRE will take part in the first two-boat testing programme ever organised for Volvo Ocean 65s.
Bruno Dubois, the Dongfeng Race Team Director, said the team had accepted MAPFRE’s invitation to join them for two weeks of training together. “The idea is to work on sail crossovers and do some start practice together. We offered other teams the chance to join us but none of them were available,” he said.
Dubois explained that this was not about MAPFRE and Dongfeng Race Team – two of the strongest entries in the Volvo Ocean Race – sharing or giving away secrets. “Our focus is not on what we are giving, but on what we will get out of this. We will play it open and in a totally transparent way and both teams are going to learn from it,” added Dubois.
Leg Zero, overall final rankings after 4 races:
1. MAPFRE 29 points
2. Dongfeng Race Team 24
3. Team Brunel 23
4. team AkzoNobel 22
5. Vestas 11th Hour Racing 20
6. Turn the Tide on Plastic 13
7. Sun Hung Kai Scallywag 9
What is the Leg Zero?
This is the first year that the race has formed part of the Volvo Ocean Race Leg Zero series – a four-part warm-up for the Volvo Ocean Race proper that starts from Alicante in Spain on October 22nd. Following the Round The Island Race (02.08) and the Fastnet Race (06-09.08), the Volvo Ocean Race crews have completed two passage races, from Plymouth to St Malo starting on August 10th, and then from St Malo to Lisbon, starting on August 13th.