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Dongfeng’s triumph in Volvo is amazing. This is why.

Almost 40 000 miles race was decided on 40 miles near Netherlands.

Always the second. Like all the time…

Although sporting sailors are known for having kind of an ego and high self-confidence, they are used to take defeats quite well. Not like some primadonnas at the soccer World Cup. Being always the second is still really frustrating in any discipline. Let’s imagine how tough it has to be for Dongfeng, who almost reached the top several times like Sisyphus.
In the Volvo Ocean Race 2014-2015, Dongfeng remained on second or first position until their dismasting near the Cape Horn. They did not finish the Royal leg, but the team was able to refit boat quickly and win the next one. Last nautical miles did not work for them well and Chinese team finished third behind Team Brunel and the overall winner – Abu Dhabí Ocean Racing. This season of the famous around-the-world race looked a little different. They’ve established and kept the overall leading position for some moments, but never won any leg. Boat problems came just like the last time, now during the Leg3.

Before the last sprint from Goteborg to Hague, the score was almost tied for the first three winning positions. Everyone speculated about the possibility for Dongfeng to get the trophy without winning any of regatta’s legs. The news and reports sounded a little bit sarcastic when talking about this alternative. But Dongfeng Race Team changed everything. They’ve won the 970-miles finale at its very end and took it all.

More diversity than at UN coffee break

Since 2013, it was a well-known fact, that Dongfeng Race Team has a “very international” crew. (By the way, the United Nations had its own team named “Turn Tide on Plastic” this season.) Maybe their main sponsor, Dongfeng Motor company, does not look like a jolly brand in the 21st-century’s fight for the blue planet, but they’ve also made an effort on their part
Attention of Volvo Ocean Race viewers came at the team’s very beginning. As there were no competitive sailing celebrities among Chinese, the French skipper Charles Caudrelier was hired to do the job. That proved to be a badass choice as he won the previous race with Groupama 4 team. Their content became popular before the race because everyone was wondering about how they can communicate with each other. Skipper and part of the crew speak French, others do not. You can find Dutch, English (with New Zealand accent) and a group of Chinese guys in that team. Kind of a “Babylon Tower”, but guess what? During this past season, it became even more multi-national. The crew-members maybe should consider to learn the Esperanto language to establish communication onboard. One can hardly expect that learning Chinese or French would be an easy option. Option of having a gender-mixed team was chosen this season. Three women joined the team and became first female crew-members to win the Volvo Ocean Race, the regatta with 45 years tradition.  They’ve made it through many struggles.

a Reporter after the leg: First question, were you able to not kill each other during the race?

Dongfeng crew-member with thinking and smile: Oh yes, we surprisingly were!

The navigator with the nerves of steel

It would take an entire essay to describe all the ways in which this race was close. When Volvo Ocean Race organisers decided to make the fleet one-design, they wanted a more balanced, close and entertaining race. In that regard, it could not have worked out better. 
In the last leg, any of the three competitors who arrived first would win overall Volvo Ocean Race title. During the first half, everything was close, then the fleet split. There were calm winds near the shore, and a wild gale raging offshore. As the Hague is very busy transport traffic place, many exclusion zones were making it more like a chess game. A brave decision have been made aboard Dongfeng Race Team. Going east near shore and waiting for the breeze. For the first hours it seemed like a really bad coin-flip for Dongfeng and its navigator Pascal Bidégorry. 
Photo of a very succesful man. Before race (left) and after race. Acknowledge that he lost no hair, even during the last leg.
It turned out to be a wise choice. A few hours before the finish, simulations started to look great for Dongfeng team. At that moment they were the 5th boat from the finish line, but everybody started to see it. For the very first time, the Dongfeng Race Team was sailing for the win.

Ladies! Congratulations from all the gentlemen!

We have to properly remind to the millennials generation, that there were 112 women who competed in Volvo Ocean Race during its history. Twenty of them as a team during 2017-18 season. 

“My goal was to win the race and to be the first woman to do it is great, but I would really like to thank the team — they were behind us all the way — the shore team and the logistics team while our sailors on the boat pulled it off together.” Carolijn Brouwer

 

After competing as a member of the teams SCA (2014-15) and Amer Sports Too (2001-2002), Carolijn Brouwer came to her homeland as the first female Volvo Ocean Race winner in history. Looks like just established rules for mixed crews are working well for the teams and race itself.

China – the sailing nation since ever. Now everyone can see it.

When first Chinese sailors joined Dongfeng in 2013, everyone saw them as amateurs. It looked as a catchy story and fact that Liu Xue “Black” was 21years old that time was feeding the hype. 

Even though this was his first offshore race (guy was starting from the top of the list probably) Liu Xue sailed since he was 13. Chen Jinhao, also called Horace, sailed America’s Cup World Series and the Extreme Sailing Series. He is young as Liu Xue Black, but also sailed since his childhood. Why some news are still talking about “young Chinese sailors with few experiences” is such a mystery to Kraken. The names “Black” and “Horace” are chosen as their western names. This is becoming a popular practice in modern Chinese culture for reaching more flexibility while navigating cross-culture interactions. We know that there are not many sailors from China to be seen at big races nowadays. Chinese were a sailing nation throughout their long history. After a 2014-2015 season of Volvo Ocean Race, Chen Jinhao “Horace” has founded a sailing club for young people from China, who want to become sports sailors. So get used to seeing the Chinese in the regattas, guys! 

Epic Dongfeng, epic Volvo!

It was very touching to see Bouwe Bekking unable to win in his homeland’s waters. Just as touching as seeing Xabi Fernández trying for the fifth time, now closer than ever. 
Perhaps Dongfeng Race Team does not have so many fans out there in the western world, but there are so many positive vibes from their success. Congratulations! 
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