With less than 1,400 nautical miles left to sail at the ongoing Volvo Ocean Race 2014 – 2015, the Dongfeng Race Team (DFRT) has managed to stay ahead of the pack even after the fourth leg of the competition came to an end last week.
Having started the leg through the South China Sea and Pacific Ocean, Dongfeng Race Team became the first Chinese-backed boat to win a stage (fourth leg) in the Volvo Ocean Race In the fourth leg, the overall leaders held a narrow 2.7 nautical mile (nm) advantage over their closest pursuers, Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing, with Spain’s MAPFRE just 12.4nm adrift.
Rarely has a leg of this length (5,264nm from Sanya, China to New Zealand) been so closely contested in the 41-year history of the race. After nearly 18 days of head-to-head racing through the South China Sea and Pacific Ocean, Dongfeng’s French skipper Charles Caudrelier said that the team was definitely feeling the Although Dongfeng’s boat started the leg with a one-point advantage over Abu Dhabi, the team had to bounce back from the serious breakage of a piece of mast equipment.
The crew dropped back to last place while it was repaired, but within 48 hours had picked off the rest of the six-strong fleet, one-by-one, to claim the lead.
“To be in the lead after all the hard knocks we’ve taken on this leg is without doubt one of my, and the team’s proudest moments since the start of this race.” he said.
Despite the closeness of the competition, the French skipper was in a buoyant mood in a weekend message from the boat.
“We’ve got our smile back over these past two days and our “Our easterly position might work out well for us, but just one cloud can either launch you to the front or stop you totally for several hours.”
“It’s turning into a fantastic race and, with light winds forecast for the end, it will surely be a nail-biter,” he wrote in his blog from the boat.
Overall, all competing boats will sail 38,739 nautical miles over nine months, visiting 11 ports and every continent before the race concludes in Gothenburg, Sweden, on June 27. Dongfeng led the overall standings by one point after three legs from Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing with Team Brunel from the Netherlands in third, three points further behind.
In an effort to recognise its top fleet customers for playing a vital role in further strengthening the Dongfeng brand in Malaysia, the company invited five of its fleet customers – Megah Transport, Jasa Bumi Sdn Bhd, Strong Mix Concrete, and Chip Seng Heng Berhad to witness the opening round of the Volvo Ocean Race in China last month.
Dato Lee Aik Kheow, Mr Ong Kong Kuan, Mr Colin Pang, and Mr and Mrs Tan You Seng, who represented Megah Transport, Jasa Bumi, Strong Mix Concrete and Chip Seng Heng respectably, were even lucky enough to take part in the pro-am race, where the Malaysian team finished third on the first day of the in port race.