In Volvo Ocean Race 2.0, the first One Design version of racing, it’s difficult to decipher what is a real ‘lead’.
With such matched boats and the homogenous level of ability on the boats, its very hard to gain a mile on your competitors, So if you have a 10 mile lead, is that a good lead? 10 miles can evaporate overnight with one bad cloud, or an error of sail selection. In reality the gaps on the leaderboard today after a week of racing, with 3,500 miles to go, mean very little indeed.
Yet the ONLY fight the sailors have, is to fight for each of these precious miles. Fight to still be in the game when the final sprint comes in to Newport. On every leg so far the podium has decided in the closing miles.
As it stands Dongfeng are in 1st place, leading Brunel by 6 nautical miles, and unusually race favourites Abu Dhabi by 16 – but for how long? The only thing anyone seems to predict is that the unpredictable nature of the wind and clouds, due to the closeness of the fleet, can turn the leaderboard on its head very quickly in Volvo Ocean Race 2.0. Something Charles Caudrelier says has made the race a whole lot harder than before.
Today the mood is high onboard after not finishing the last leg and contending with a broken water-maker on this leg, it seems only fair that Dongfeng Race Team have a little moment of triumph – even if it may only be short lived!
Although the chances are, by the time you are reading this, the Volvo Ocean Race leaderboard may have changed again so we would like to let you in to the background of one of our strongest Chinese Sailors. His name is Chen Jin Hao but you can call him Horace.
There may be many reasons as to why Horace’s story may be of interest. Maybe people are impressed he’s so young. Maybe they’re impressed he taught himself English within the last calendar year. Maybe people are impressed that China has skilled offshore sailors capable of doing this race at all.
This is the story of a born competitor. A boy who if asked will tell you that everything is ‘okay’. Lacking vocabulary – perhaps. And it’s a shame, because he has an amazing story. It’s pretty wild that he’s on this boat with the opportunity to do this race at all. Sam Greenfield tells the story:
Every once in awhile Horace or Black will jump on a sat phone call with Alex Wang, our bilingual media guru, who sends me a transcript of highlights.
Today I’ll share a bit of Horace’s story:
Horace: When I was in the public sailing team in China – probably this sounds unfamiliar for foreigners who don’t really know how the system works in China, but all in all, my environment there was very different from the environment I have now. People around were speaking Chinese before, while now everybody around speaks English. I wanted to know how the world’s top sailors function. But there was a barrier in front of me – English. I was also worried. I didn’t know how I should approach this at the beginning.
There’s no shortcut for learning language, I have to learn it step by step. So I put some music on my iPod and it teaches me English, I push myself to listen to it when I’m having breaks. I got upset sometimes when it’s too noisy in the cabin, because you can barely hear anything (from the iPod). Well, if I have the same attitude to learn English when I was in the school, I believe I would be able to speak English fluently now.
You know I love music. People keep pushing me to participate in The Voice of China. But I can’t say that I’m the only one who entertains everyone onboard, we are racing after all, but they like listening to me singing. Haha, that’s my little concert for them.
On his back injury (and background)
Horace: Honestly the destiny of Chinese athletes is a bit sad – they get injured, they retire, and they try to live in normal society afterwards.
You know, my back injury is the reason why I retired (at age 23), and I tried to live in normal society, but I don’t have the feeling that it was what I really want. It’s probably hard for you to understand what happened to me in the past few years, but for some one at the age of 23, it was really a lot.
I was retired from the sailing team, I went to work in the boatyards. I was trying to earn a living. I started working from the bottom level and I couldn’t eat well, I couldn’t live well and I wasn’t earning a lot of money.
But I didn’t feel like complaining about anything at all. You live only once, at least I had the feeling that what I was doing something meaningful, and it was something to do with sailing. That was my spiritual pillar.
Inadvertently I met some one who cherishes my talent, he taught me a lot. In fact I learnt a lot of stuff that brings me benefits now, especially the knowledge for fixing sails, I learnt all of the knowledge from those old craftsmen.
Maybe what I’ve learnt is not helping a lot when doing the Volvo Ocean Race, but I learnt to cherish what I have. I also tried to do lots of different things after (I learnt how to fix sails), for example I tried to get an umpire certificate and so on. No matter what I do, it’s all about sailing. I always have the feeling that there’s something new to learn, if I want to keep doing this then I need to be ready at any time.
I don’t think this is the last time I’m participating in the race, but I cherish the opportunity as if this is the last time for me.
My back injury is not so serious this leg, maybe it’s because the wind in this leg is not strong so I can get a good rest when I’m off duty. Plus I did some treatment before I joined this leg, so I haven’t felt the pain so far, so I don’t worry if this is going to affect the race. Actually it’s not only me that is in good shape, the whole team is in good condition. We are back to leading the fleet again and I can’t be more excited, especially after we had problem with the water maker. When the water maker was broken I really learnt that we have to preserve water resource. It is terrible when you don’t have water to drink.
The new position we had definitely cheers everybody up.
more info …….dongfengraceteam.cn
Leg 6: Brazil to Newport (5,000nm)
Days at sea: 7
Boat speed: 12.9
Distance to finish: 3643nm
Position in fleet: First.
by Amy Monkmanbymnews