In the autumn of 2013, the news about participation in the legendary round-the-world event "Volvo Ocean Race" appeared. Volvo Ocean Race of the Chinese team Team Dongfeng. At that time, its management emphasized that in the season 2014-15 the participation of Chinese athletes will not be nominal, as it was in the past times. The team is sponsored by the largest local car company, and managed by OC Sport, an organization known for its Extreme Sailing series (one of its stages Russia will host this summer).
We offer readers a translation of the interview SailRacingMagazine with the boss of the Chinese team Bruno Dubois, where he explains that the Chinese in the Volvo Ocean Race is not a tick, but seriously entered the game.
SRM: Can you tell us how this commercial partnership came about and how it differed from previous Chinese Volvo Ocean Race syndicates?
Bruno Dubois: It's a short story, but it doesn't detract from the importance of the project. Dongfeng is building cars and trucks, and our sponsor is their truck division. It's a large Chinese private company and it's keen to participate in the Volvo Ocean Race. SRM: Donfeng Commercial Vehicles is 55% owned by Donfeng and 45% by Volvo). They aim for results, but they also want to leave something to the sailing industry in China.
We're not the Western people who will steal China's sponsorship money and run away...
We plan to recruit Chinese athletes. Our project started on November 6th and we already have 300 entries received through our website. They came from both Chinese and foreign yachtsmen, from those who want to join the shore team, PR or become an onboard reporter. I will have to sweat it out, as I have to take apart all these applications and answer to each one.
SRM: How much easier was the arrival of monotypes to make the project?
Bruno Dubois: A lot. Before the mono-fleet, it was impossible to design and build a boat and train people to the deadline. The race starts next year, and definitely one year is not enough to make it. I think the strategy of single design is a good idea and Knut (Knut Frostad, CEO of Volvo Ocean Race) has a sensible vision of where we should go, 7-8 boats are sure to be built.
MonoFleet makes everything cheaper. Centralized service, masts, rigging, all of which will save even more money.
Now the regatta will cost the team in the range of 10-15 million euros - including the purchase of a boat for 4.5 million euros. I think, given the financial situation in the world, monotypes are the only solution. I do not think that the Chinese project was formed, if we had to build a yacht and hire a team of designers - in my opinion, this is an unrealistic option.
When we have a yacht delivered in two weeks, it will have everything from small pockets for sunglasses to a life raft. Kitchen utensils, and even cooking gas. It's a good way for a Chinese company to race.
With the same boats and sails, we have the same concern - how to sail.
SRM: What is the ratio of Chinese to non-Chinese sailors to expect? How significant is it that the skipper's name is not announced at this stage?
Bruno Dubois: The team will definitely consist of both Chinese and non-Chinese sailors. The fact that at this stage we haven't announced a skipper is not so strange. The SCA team hasn't named their own, and I guess the second ABN AMRO team didn't have one either at the time of the application.
Of course, the experience of the Volvo Ocean Race would have been very useful for us, but this season's boats are also different from the previous ones - they are closer to the IMOCA 60 design used in Vendee Globe and Barcelona World Race.
It's a funny situation. When I discussed with the sailors of the Volvo and the «America»'s Cup that there are only 8 people participating in the next VOR, they unanimously called it unthinkable: too few people and it is likely that there» will be either a tanker or navigator or a tactician «overboard. Then I talked to the Barcelona World Race drivers and asked them what it was like to have 6 or 8 people driving with IMOCA 60, and they exclaimed: «Oh, it's chic!»
The IMOCA sailors have to keep up everywhere, they rule, open, climb the mast, they're on «you» with navigation and strategy, they know how to make the boat go forward. They're self-sufficient. So we enter a new game, with a new type of yachtsman.
Take someone on board to spin the winches - leave it for the «America»'s Cup, not for the Volvo.
SRM: What do you expect from the Chinese team members? What is the ideal candidate?
Bruno Dubois: Now that we're using monotypes, the key to success lies in finding and maintaining speed. The main battle will take place in the heads, the crew is under pressure throughout the race. I rely on the team, not on individual members, and teamwork will be the main point of the training program. We can take the Chinese as a team without experience. Of course I could take the best «Finn» or «Laser»athletes, but we need someone who may not be a brilliant yachtsman and has no Olympic experience, but is strong in spirit.
the goals of this project. Do you intend to win? Are you hoping to keep up? Or do you just want to get involved?
For your information, I've been selling sails for 25 years and in my opinion there is no room for a second sailing event. That's the attitude I'm
incharge of this project. Both me and the sponsor, we want to win.
The full interview on SailRacingMagazine.