The Volvo Ocean Race fleet was treated to a warm welcome in Guangzhou, Chinaon Thursday afternoon, after arriving 70 miles up the Pearl River Delta from Hong Kong.
The Chinese Dongfeng Race Team was in the spotlight for the festivities upon arrival. Sitting in second place on the overall leaderboard, behind race leaders MAPFRE, Dongfeng was feted by the local fans.
After proceeding with the public arrival festivities, the skippers then met the local media:
Charles Caudrelier, skipper, Dongfeng Race Team, speaking about the challenge of the Volvo Ocean Race: “It’s long, very long sometimes, but this is part of the race. The goal is to last. It is difficult. That’s what is very interesting, to manage to keep the team together, to perform, to improve, even when you are exhausted, each leg you have to improve and that is what I like in this race. That’s why it is so tough and what makes it different from all the other races in the world.”
David Witt, skipper, Sun Hung Kai/Scallywag, on raising the profile of sailing in the region: “Let’s not forget we had two Asian teams running first and second in Leg 4 of the Volvo Ocean Race and I think that’s a great indication of the interest and the growth of the sport here in Asia and I think you’ll see more of that in the future.”
Dee Caffari, skipper, Turn the Tide on Plastic, on building skills with her young crew: “Every day is a school day for us. We learn every day... Everybody is continuing to develop and improve. Now we have to make sure our rate of improvement is a little bit better than these other guys and I’m sure our results will come.”
Bouwe Bekking, skipper Team Brunel, on how the Volvo Ocean Race gets under your skin: “You do this race because you love the sport… Is it an obsession? I don’t think so. I just love my sport. I always dreamed about doing this race and I’ve fulfilled my dream.”
Simeon Tienpont, skipper, team AkzoNobel, on getting hooked on the race at a young age: “It’s important to grow up with the sport. In Netherlands we have a big history with the Volvo Ocean Race, there have been many dutch teams. So when I grew up I sailed my Optimist but on Sundays I’d go to my dad’s office and we’d plot out these routes and during the week at school I’d figure out which boat was which. That got me inspired by the race and got me hooked. I feel very lucky to be one of the few guys in this world to be able to race with my own team.”
Xabi Fernandez, skipper, MAPFRE, on whether the other teams are catching up and narrowing the advantage to his team: “Last edition we were on the other side, we started bad and kept coming up throughout the race. We knew it would not be easy this time and all the teams are going to keep improving. You only need to see the crew list on each team to see the experience and quality of people. For the moment, our preparation is giving us a slight advantage, but it’s going to be harder and harder. Hopefully we can keep it going our way.”
Next up on the calendar is the Dongfeng In-Port Race Guangzhou, on Saturday afternoon. The fleet departs Guangzhou on Monday, February 5.