Leg Zero is the first chance to see the whole 2017-18 fleet in competitive action and consists of four races – the Lendy Cowes Week Around the Island Race, the Rolex Fastnet Race, Plymouth-St Malo and St Malo-Lisbon.
In the first of a series of key battles to watch during Leg Zero, we look at Dongfeng Race Team and MAPFRE. The pair battled around the world in 2014-15 – and meet again in Leg Zero as the two pre-race favourites for 2017-18. Both teams have assembled all-star crews full of Olympic gold medallists, thousands of offshore miles, and have spent plenty of time preparing for the start line. Who will take #FirstBlood in Leg Zero?
– Charles Caudrelier, Dongfeng Race Team skipper –
It’s the first time we’re going to be racing against one another and it'll be interesting because some people we know really well and we’ve fought against in the past but others we have no idea so it’s going to be exciting.
I think it’s just us and MAPFRE who are coming back with almost the same crew, and we’re also the two teams going two boat testing together after Leg Zero. We know the Spanish are good and we can clearly see they’re happy to be sailing together, they have worked together for years, and they’re going to be a seriously strong team. They have a lot of experience. Out of all the teams it’s ourselves, MAPFRE and team AkzoNobel who have had the most time to prepare.
– Xabi Fernández, MAPFRE skipper –
Dongfeng is the team which is the best prepared and has had the most time and has a great crew as well. They had a good team last time and they've added some big names like Stu Bannatyne and Daryl Wislang too. They've put a very good team together and they've been sailing a lot, so for sure, it's going to be a reference for us. But I think the Volvo Ocean Race as a whole is going to be a very competitive one – there are also some really good sailors on Team AkzoNobel, with a new boat, so we're very interested to see how they do and check if there is any difference. There are no points involved in Leg Zero but we'll take it seriously. It's a the first time that we've sailed competitively as a team so it'll be really useful for us.