• 06-AUG-2017

Leg Zero: Rolex Fastnet Race - Dongfeng lead the pack as Volvo Ocean Race fleet takes on the Rolex Fastnet Race

Dongfeng Race Team stormed down the western Solent to lead the fleet of Volvo Ocean 65s in the Rolex Fastnet Race – part two of the Leg Zero qualifying series for the Volvo Ocean Race 2017-18.

With 2.5 knots of outgoing tide against 18-21 knots of south westerly wind, the Chinese team, skippered by Charles Caudrelier, secured their lead by expertly covering the rest of the tightly bunched fleet.

The two red boats, MAPFRE and Dongfeng Racing won the start but the Spanish team were held up by bad wind coming off Nikata, the biggest boat in the race at 115 feet. In fact, all the Volvo Ocean Race sailors were challenged by having to sail around the record 390-boat fleet in this 605-nautical mile offshore classic.

Sailing in a mixed boat fleet will not be a challenge after this section of Leg Zero. Following the Fastnet, the Volvo Ocean Race fleet will complete two more legs – Plymouth to Saint-Malo and Saint-Malo to Lisbon – without any other boats as a distraction, or hindrance.

The opening leg of Leg Zero was a 50nm sprint around the Isle of Wight, won in record-breaking fashion by MAPFRE.

That makes the Fastnet the first offshore test for the teams that will take the start line of the Volvo Ocean Race on 22 October in Alicante.

"It’s the first time we are all going to sail offshore against the other boats so it’s important to see where we are amongst the other boats,” said Caudrelier. “It’s a good race to train, to start racing together."

As the boats reached the famous chalky cliffs of the Needles, Dongfeng led by 0.3 nm from Vestas 11th Hour Racing, with MAPFRE in third.

Team AkzoNobel, Team Brunel, Team Sun Hung Kai/Scallywag and Turn the Tide on Plastic were closely grouped behind, with only 0.6 nm separating the entire fleet.

Leaving the Isle of Wight behind, the fleet will face stable upwind conditions until Land’s End where scrambled winds from an old cold front, and strong tides await. This transition will be hard fought and could split the fleet, with opportunities for more experienced teams to react faster to the changing circumstances.

While an overall Leg Zero winner will be declared, no points will be carried through to the Volvo Ocean Race itself, meaning there’s particular value in the series for some of the later teams to enter.

David Witt, skipper of Team Sun Hung Kai/Scallywag, said: “The longer we can sail in the same water as MAPFRE and Dongfeng, the more we’re going to learn. Just don’t expect us to set the world on fire until the real stuff happens.”

The boats are due at the Fastnet Rock at around 0600 UTC on Tuesday, whereupon they will sail downwind in conditions building from 15-20 knots before a reach to the finish in Plymouth late on Tuesday night.

The fleet will re-start from Plymouth on the leg to Saint-Malo on Thursday.


Interviews with Volvo Ocean Race skippers ahead of their departure for the Rolex Fastnet Race. The race left on August 6th from Cowes and will end in Plymouth after going around the Fastnet Rock. An offshore classic, stretching over 600 nautical miles it is the first opportunity for the Volvo Ocean 65s to race off shore against one another, and against a record fleet of around 375 boats.


00.00 Dee Caffari, Turn the Tide on Plastic

"The Rolex Fastnet is definitely an ocean classic. It’s one of those 600-milers, there’s a number of them on the Rolex calendar, and people generally have it on their Wishlist, their to-do list, their bucket list that they want to tick off and I know that for some of my crew it’s their first ever Fastnet race and they’re super excited. 
Any miles on the water is very good training in preparation for the Volvo Ocean Race and when you have the whole fleet together it really gives some good perspective on where you’re slacking off and how much work you need to do. The Rolex Fastnet race is great training ground, it’s got a lot of shifts and the intensity needs to be full on. 
You have a lot of tidal gates, you have a lot of sail changes ahead plus obviously the strategy against the other boats. It really does test every single member of the crew. It’s going to be full on. Not a lot of sleep, a lot of work and I think they’ll be exhausted when they finish in Plymouth"

00.47 David Witt, Team Sun Hung Kai/Scallywag: "We’re lucky because Leg Zero hasn’t been here before. And coming in late, we’d be two legs into the race, miles behind the rest and trying to catch up. The longer we can sail on the same water as MAPFRE and Dongfeng the more we’re going to learn. And hopefully we have until Alicante to get the boat motored properly. Just don’t expect us to set the world on fire until the real stuff happens."

01.20 Xabi Fernández, MAPFRE "The main goal of Leg Zero is to see where everyone is, and to see how our sail changes are, our performances, it’s going to be very interesting."

01.33 Bouwe Bekking, Team Brunel - "Yeah the Rolex Fastnet Race, looks like quite an easy one this time. We’ll be sailing upwind all the way until Land’s End, and then there’s actually a little system is developing, first we get no wind and then the big shift to the right, but then once we round the Fastnet Rock it looks like there will be nice smooth sailing, 18-20 knots downwind to Plymouth and the we’ll arrive on Tuesday, somewhere near midnight. "

02.03 Charlie Enright, Vestas 11th Hour Racing: "We’re more focused on ourselves right now, and not the other boats, because we’re just sailing as a team for the first time this week."

02.21 Charles Caudrelier, Dongfeng Race Team|: "t’s the first time we are all going to sail off-shore against the other boats so it’s important to see where we are amongst the other boats. It’s a good race to train, to start racing together, because we have been training but not racing too much and we have a new team member."

02.52 Simeon Tienpont, Team AkzoNobel: "Pretty excited with this weather. It’s good, there’s been such a build-up to get a campaign from nothing on the ground to where we are at now and I think it is more than a rewarding feeling to start doing proper racing and to feel as a crew that we’re ready for it, to get to the next step and learn and see where we are at."

03.19 ENDS

00.00 pan of boat details in port and crew working onboard
00.10 CU of the bow of Vestas 11th Hour berthed with Volvo Ocean Race and Rolex Fastnet logos
00.19 flared CU of Vestas 11th Hour berthed 
00.30 Vestas 11th Hour's Simon Fisher playing with kids onboard 
00.48 Sequence of AkzoNobel's Martine Grael being interviewed onboard in port
01.16 sequence of AkzoNobel's Simeon Tienpont fixing the flag on the stern and waving (in port)
01.33 wide shot of Brunel leaving the port with iconic Portsmouth landmark in the background
01.43 wide shot of Turn the Tide on Plastic leaving the port  
02.30 closer shot of Turn the Tide on Plastic leaving the port 
02.46 sequence of AkzoNobel leaving the port with iconic Portsmouth landmark in the background
03.21 wide shot of MAPFRE berthed
03.27 wide shot of MAPFRE team being photographed before they leave port
03.33 MAPFRE leaving the port
03.51 ENDS


00” slate
05” Onboard Donfeng Race Team
47” Onboard Sun Hung Kai Scallywag
1’22” Onboard AkzoNobel 
2’58” End 


​- general fleet shots

Duration 1'14"

TEAMS and Crew lists for Rolex Fastnet Race: 

Vestas 11th Hour Racing: Charlie Enright (skipper, USA), Simon Fisher (GBR), Mark Towill (USA), Phil Harmer (Aus), Tom Johnson (Aus), Tony Mutter (NZ), Nick Dana (USA), Abby Ehler (GBR), Hannah Diamond (GBR). Onboard Reporter: Martin Keruzore (FRA)

Dongfeng Race Team: Charles Caudrelier (skipper, FRA), Pascal Bidegorry (FRA), Daryl Wislang (NZ), Carolijn Brouwer (NED), Marie Riou (FRA), Horace (Jinhao) Chen (CHI), Jeremie Beyou (FRA), Stuart Bannatyne (NZ), Jackson Bouttell (GBR/FRA). OBR: Jeremie Lecaudey (FRA)

MAPFRE: Xabi Fernández (skipper, ESP), Joan Vila (ESP), Antonio "Ñeti" Cuervas-Mons (ESP), Pablo Arrarte (ESP), Robert Greenhalgh (GBR), Blair Tuke (NZ), Támara Echegoyen (ESP), Sophie Ciszek (AUS), Willy Altadill (ESP). OBR: Ugo Fonollá (ESP)

Team Sun Hung Kai/Scallywag: David Witt (skipper, AUS), Steve Hales (GBR), 
Luke Parkinson (AUS), Mark Fullerton (NZ), Alex Gough (AUS), Ben Piggott (AUS), John Fisher (UK). OBR: Konrad Frost (GBR)

Team AkzoNobel: Simeon Tienpont (skipper, NED), Jules Salter (GBR), Brad Jackson (NZ), Joca Signorini (BRA), Roberto 'Chuny' Bermúdez (ESP), Nicolai Sehested (DEN), Brad Farrand (NZ), Martine Grael (BRA), Emily Nagel (trialling, BERMUDA). OBR: James Blake (NZ)

Team Brunel: Bouwe Bekking (skipper, NED), Carlo Huisman (NED), Kyle Langford (AUS), Alberto Bolzan (ITA), Jens Dolmer (DEN), Annie Lush (UK). Rest of the crew to be confirmed. OBR: Richard Edwards (GBR)

Turn the Tide on Plastic: Dee Caffari (skipper, GBR), Liz Wardley (Aus), Nicolas Lunven (FRA), Bernardo Freitas (POR), Annalise Murphy (IRE), Francesca Clapcich (ITA), Henry Bomby (UK), Lucas Chapman (AUS), Andrew McLean (NZ), Annika Zayac (USA). OBR: Jen Edney (USA)


  • Sabina Mollart Rogerson
    Head of News - Sunset+Vine
    United Kingdom
    +44 207 258 6800
    +44 7922 140148