UBOX Chinese crew ready for another crack at Sydney to Hobart after impressive 13th place

The dual French-China team feature many of the sailors who were part of the Dongfeng crew in the Volvo Ocean Race

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 29 December, 2016, 3:11pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 29 December, 2016, 10:19pm

The Chinese crew of Sydney-to-Hobart China entry UBOX put on an impressive show in the bluewater classic in a performance that is sure to boost the profile of sailing in the mainland.

The Bruce Farr-designed Cookson 50 – featuring many of the sailors who participated in Dongfeng’s Volvo Ocean Race – finished 13th in the line honours category and performed even better in the four handicap events, finishing first (ORCi - Div 1), first (ORCi), third (IRC - Div 0) and third (IRC).

Co-skippered by Dongfeng captain Charles Caudrelier and Wang Lei, the French-China crew completed the 628-nautical-mile race in two days, five hours, six minutes and 33 seconds. Australia’s Perpetual Loyal won the race in a record 01:13:31:20.

“We learned a lot, and the co-operation was quite awesome,” Yang “Wolf” Jiru, who was also a crew for Dongfeng, told organisers. “At the beginning people said it would be a lot of upwind [sailing], bam bam, but we were quite lucky. A lot of downwind reaching.

“It was a lot of fun. During the first night, we reached 30 knots and were sailing very fast. We all enjoyed it.”

The race gained widespread coverage in China given the presence of UBOX, the former Pretty Fly III that was bought by the company’s chief executive, Wang Bin, in November.

“We’ll be back, and we will do a better job next time,” added Yang.

The main problem for the mixed crew was the language barrier, which they vowed to overcome for next year’s race.

“It was not a very tough race,” said Caudrelier. “I think we were very lucky with the weather. That last day we paid a bit, but it was good for our Chinese rookies. They did a very good job.

“That’s why we were so happy with the forecast before we left the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia. Communicating was not easy, especially at night when we were handing over the watches. We need to improve that. It is a very big issue.

“This was my first Hobart and I could come back 40 times and not get the same weather.”

UBOX was among the top five or six boats on corrected time and was in line to win before the winds subsided.

“We made a good move in the transition to the first low on day one, and we were ahead of the TP52s” Caudrelier says. “We didn’t do very well [on the last night]. We could have done better.”