Before race official would officially ink their entry in the 2017-18 Volvo Ocean Race, the seven teams had to compete in four required qualification races, known as Leg Zero. This four stage series began the crescendo toward the October 22 start in Alicante, Spain, but also gave the teams an early sense of the pecking order.
To no one’s surprise, Dongfeng Race Team and MAPFRE – which finished third and fourth respectively in the 2015-15 race, and have had an early start on their training for the upcoming race – completed the Leg Zero series in the top two.
“We’ve done a lot of training in the winter and I think we’ve seen that we sail very well,” said MAPFE skipper Xabi Fernández on winning the Leg Zero series.
Dongfeng skipper Charles Caudrelier, whose team was in position to win the 2014-15 edition until being dismasted, looks ready for the fight. “I think we have good speed and a good spirit on board and I am pretty sure we can do very well,” note. “Of course the Spanish team on MAPFRE is very strong.”
And now Dongfeng and MAPFRE will be training together to get even better. The two teams are heading to the Spanish Galician resort of Sanxenxo where they 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.”
Dubois explained that this was not about MAPFRE and Dongfeng Race Team 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.”
2017-18 Edition: Entered Teams – Skippers
• Team AkzoNobel (NED), Simeon Tienpont (NED)
• Dongfeng Race Team (CHN), Charles Caudrelier (FRA)
• MAPFRE (ESP), Xabi Fernández (ESP)
• Vestas 11th Hour Racing (DEN/USA), Charlie Enright (USA)
• Team Sun Hung Kai/Scallywag (HKG), David Witt (AUS)
• Turn the Tide on Plastic (POR), Dee Caffari (GBR)
• Team Brunel (NED), Bouwe Bekking (NED)
Background: Racing the one design Volvo Ocean 65, the 2017-18 Volvo Ocean Race begins in Alicante, Spain on October 22 2017 with the final finish in The Hague, Netherlands on June 30 2018. In total, the 11-leg race will visit 12 cities in six continents: Alicante, Lisbon, Cape Town, Melbourne, Hong Kong, Guangzhou, Auckland, Itajaí, Newport, Cardiff, Gothenburg, and The Hague. A maximum of eight teams will compete.
Source: Dongfeng, Volvo Ocean Race