Photo: Ainhoa Sanchez / Volvo Ocean Race

Boat and mast united

Dongfeng Race Team reaches Itajai

Monday April 13th 2015, Author: James Boyd, Location: Brazil

After being escorted by the local police, blocking off several roads, taking on a few sharp turns, adjusting a street sign and enduring incessant honking from the Brazilian traffic, Dongfeng Race Team's new mast finally arrived at the Volvo Ocean Race Village in Itajai yesterday.


After 10 days at sea, the shore crew of Dongfeng Race Team successfully completed the delivery of its limping Volvo Ocean 65 from Ushuaia to Itajai at approximately 1:30am local time. A journey of 2,000 miles that wasn’t without concern but as the sailors re-grouped in Itajai in the middle of the night to greet their boat and the rest of their team dockside, it becomes increasingly obvious that in the words of Charles Caudrelier: “It’s not the end of the world, it’s just one leg.”

It was a strange reunion dockside in the middle of the night. The race village was closed and empty - there was no music, no MC, nothing apart from the team and a few Volvo Ocean Race personnel.

The shore crew looked surprisingly fresh and were in great spirits when they arrived. “We’ve been working on the boat non-stop,” explained Boat Captain, Graham Tourell. “We have a huge to-do list and we’re keen to get started. We have a responsibility to deliver a race ready boat to these sailors and that’s exactly what we’re going to do.”

So what does it feel like for skipper Charles Caudrelier to stand on the pontoon and catch the lines from his Boat Captain? “It feels strange, no question! But things have moved quickly and we haven’t had much time to dwell. We’re back in the action and it feels good. We have a hard week ahead though.”

As the shore team and sailors gear up to work 20 hours days, in what will no doubt be one of the most intense weeks the team has faced, the problems are far from over. One of the key aspects team manager Bruno Dubois will have to sort out this week is to ensure the sailors get enough rest to take on the next leg and ensure they are not too exhausted from preparing the boat.

“There is no doubt we have two huge logistical problems out of the way, but there is still a long way to go,” explains Technical Director, Neil Graham. “The aim is not just to get the boat on the start line but to have it 100% race ready for the in-port race on 18 April.”

Now the mast and the boat are in the same place and all the technical equipment (and hands) available, it’s now just a matter of time. However time is not on the team's side and eventually time is the only thing that will make the difference between having a boat and crew on the start line and having a boat and crew on the start line that is 100% ready in terms of performance.


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