China’s Dongfeng Race Team will build on the all-round success of their Volvo Ocean Race debut and return in 2017-18 for a second successive campaign under French skipper Charles Caudrelier, the team announced on Monday.
The team will be 100% backed by Dongfeng Motor Corporation, the Chinese motor manufacturer headquartered in the Hubei province city of Wuhan, and the target will be to improve on an already strong performance in 2014-15, when they exceeded expectations by finishing third overall.
Dongfeng announced the partnership alongside Charles Caudrelier, Team Director Bruno Dubois and Volvo Ocean Race Managing Director Antonio Bolaños, at a news conference in Wuhan.
Yang Qing, the vice president of the Dongfeng Motor Corporation, said the company was proud to be back in the Volvo Ocean Race: “The Volvo Ocean Race is the premier offshore sailing race in the world and has attracted China’s attention. More and more media and public now know of the race through the challenge by Dongfeng Race Team, with the support of Dongfeng, in the 2014-15 edition. There is no doubt that Dongfeng Race Team made history and multiple Chinese sailors are part of that story.
“Not only did Dongfeng Race Team succeed in marketing the Chinese motor brand to a growing global customer base, but the team also promoted Chinese culture through the Volvo Ocean Race. Dongfeng Motor Corporation is dedicated to support the Chinese team again with the leadership of skipper Charles Caudrelier and to once more challenge the offshore sailing fraternity and establish an effective communication channel about the sport of sailing between China and the world,” he concluded.
Caudrelier’s team are the second confirmed entry in the race, which will start on October 22 next year and take the teams 45,000 nautical miles around the world in one of the toughest routes in the race’s 43-year history. Team AkzoNobel, skippered by Simeon Tienpont, were the first team to announce.
Dongfeng Race Team will once again represent China, racing under the Chinese flag and will continue to have the interests of Chinese sailing at heart.
Charles Caudrelier and a team that featured four Chinese sailors over the course of the race, defied expectations to secure third place overall in 2014-15.
Success on the water, plus an open and innovative approach to storytelling, provided a major boost to the Dongfeng brand, particularly outside China, while giving the team the highest measured media value from the race.
This time the sponsorship has been elevated from Dongfeng Trucks (DFCV) to the Dongfeng Motor Corporation, a sign of the commercial success of the campaign last time. Dongfeng Motor Corporation is the Chinese motor industry leader. In the 2016 ‘FortuneChina’ top 500 leaderboard, Dongfeng Motor Corporation was ranked 81st with revenue of US $82.817 billion, and ranked 16th amongst Chinese businesses.
Heading into 2017-18, the goal will be to win, said Caudrelier, who tasted victory himself with Groupama in 2011-12.
The 42-year-old Frenchman is delighted to be representing China again: “For sure I am very happy because I have learnt about China and its people and I really enjoy working with them,” he said. “I am very happy to see Dongfeng coming back. It is great for us to see a sponsor returning who feels happy about sailing and is happy to get involved again.
“With this announcement the team is in the ‘starting blocks’ early and that will give us an advantage to find the best crew and to train as much as possible. But this is not an easy task – the next edition of the race is the longest and hardest yet with three times as much Southern Ocean racing to do.
“In the last race the Chinese sailors, who had almost no offshore sailing experience, joined the squad and performed beyond expectations alongside our professional international crew. Together we showed what we could do, how we could overcome adversity and be an even stronger, united team at the end.”
This second Dongfeng Race Team project follows Team Sanya (2011-12) and Green Dragon (2008-09) as the Volvo Ocean Race’s fourth Chinese entry. Green Dragon was a joint-entry with Ireland.
“It’s fantastic news to have Dongfeng come back as a sponsor for a second consecutive edition – and fantastic news for sailing in China, to be able to build on the legacy that the first Dongfeng Race Team project created,” said Volvo Ocean Race CEO Mark Turner, who, before taking the reins of the event in June 2016, oversaw the Dongfeng Race Team project.
“It’s really pleasing to see a Chinese sponsor which was new to sports sponsorship, coming back a second time based on the strength of the success of the first campaign, both on the media side and the Business to Business side. It’s a very big vote of confidence in the race, not just for other Chinese brands, but for many companies around the world who are looking for a platform to help them transform their business, internally or externally or both.
He continued: “Charles Caudrelier over-delivered in the last edition with a crew that on paper were less experienced than some of the other teams. It’s great that he is coming back as skipper. I think he will use the experience of the last race to build a great team.”
The seven One Design Volvo Ocean 65s from last edition are currently undergoing a stringent re-fit procedure at the Race’s Boatyard facility in Lisbon, Portugal – and an identical eighth boat is also currently built by Persico Marine in Bergamo, Italy.
It has previously been announced that the next race will feature two Southeast Asian stops, Hong Kong and Guangzhou. It will be the fourth consecutive edition that the Race has stopped in China.
In total, the Race will visit 11 cities in five continents, starting in Alicante and taking in Lisbon, Cape Town, Hong Kong, Guangzhou, Auckland, Itajaí, Newport, Cardiff and Gothenburg before the finish in The Hague.