Experienced short-handed French sailor Fabien Delahaye is a last-minute inclusion onboard Dongfeng Race Team for Leg 3 from Cape Town to Melbourne following a freak injury to watch captain Daryl Wislang.
Delahaye, 33, from Lorient, France is a designated reserve sailor for Dongfeng Race Team and has been working with the campaign as Performance Analyst. His inclusion in the nine-strong male and female crew follows a back injury to Wislang early this morning at the house in Cape Town where he and his family were staying.
“It was earlier this morning that I got out of bed and did the usual routine, helping the kids out,” said a bitterly disappointed Wislang, who is also one of Dongfeng Race Team’s top drivers.
“A small movement twisted my back and I went down on the ground and it seized up completely.”
The New Zealander, who won the Volvo Ocean Race in 2014-15 as part of Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing, was assessed by a physiotherapist who concluded that he may have damaged a disc.
Following the assessment, skipper Charles Caudrelier and Team Director Bruno Dubois took the decision to call up Delahaye who will sail as pitman on Dongfeng while Caudrelier will take over the role of watch captain alongside New Zealander Stu Bannatyne.
“I am thankful that the Volvo Ocean Race is what it is and the teams are pretty close,” added Wislang. "I went to see a physio who confirmed that it was a disc problem rather than a muscular problem and with this it is not worth the risk to sail on this leg.
“Obviously it is a hard decision and one that I didn’t want to take,” he continued, “so Bruno and Charles made the call that it was better for me to stay on land for this one and get back on board in Melbourne after the rehab.”
Caudrelier commented: “For sure this is not good news for us or for Daryl and we have lost one of our best drivers but the Volvo Ocean Race is a team job and for Fabien it was his dream to sail and this is his opportunity.
“It was not easy for him being back-up sailor because he may not have had the chance to sail but he is going to realise his dream now and he is a fantastic driver who is famous from the Solitaire du Figaro for his speed downwind. I am sure this is a great opportunity for him and the team will be strong.”
Among Delahaye's career achievements was being named as French champion of offshore racing in 2011, a year when he finished second in the Figaro. He also won the Class 40 title in the Transat Jacques Vabre in 2013 alongside Sébastien Rogues.
“I am happy to join the team and do the leg but I’m really sad for Daryl,” said Delahaye who had just a few hours to prepare for the Southern Ocean.
“I think it was the right decision as we need Daryl for the rest of the race and I will do my job as well as I can.”