Charles Caudrelier the skipper of Dongfeng was in philosophical mood this afternoon after his crew finished the non-scoring Volvo Ocean Race official Prologue in sixth place.
Caudrelier described the shortened passage race, intended to take the seven-strong fleet from Lisbon to Alicante that featured very light and variable conditions, as a valuable “lesson” ahead of the Volvo Ocean Race proper.
“It was a very complicated race with lots of decisions to make,” said Caudrelier on board Dongfeng as it motored from the finish at Cabo de Gata on the southeast corner of Spain towards Alicante. “We didn’t start very well and then we had to make a choice and we didn’t make the right one,” he added.
Indeed the key moment came as the fleet crept round Portimao on the Portuguese coast, 24 hours into the race. At this point eventual winner MAPFRE, together with second-placed Team Brunel, decided to go inshore towards Faro while Dongfeng Race Team and the other four crews headed out to sea looking for better winds.
In the end the inshore route, where MAPFRE found sea breeze conditions to play with, paid handsome dividends, giving the Spanish crew a convincing win. “I think everybody was not really sure what was going to happen,” added Caudrelier, “it was a good lesson for the race.”
Dongfeng will reach Alicante tomorrow afternoon where the build-up to the start of the Volvo Ocean Race on October 22nd begins tonight with the official opening of the Race Village and a firework display.
Dongfeng Race Team features an international crew of male and female sailors from six nations including China. It is sponsored by Dongfeng Motor Corporation of Wuhan in China.