Dongfeng Race Team has called up Justine Mettraux for Leg 4 of the Volvo Ocean Race from Melbourne to Hong Kong.
The Swiss sailor, who competed in 2014-15 as part of the all-female Team SCA, will join the Chinese entry as they sit second overall in the 2017-18 edition.
She will replace French Olympian and four-time Nacra 17 world champion Marie Riou, who is taking a break from Charles Caudrelier’s crew as part of a planned rotation after a brutal and relentless Southern Ocean leg, and will return for Leg 5 from Hong Kong to Auckland.
Other changes on Dongfeng include the return of Kiwi watch captain Daryl Wislang, who has now recovered from a back injury which kept him out of Leg 3, plus Vendée Globe star Jeremie Beyou and Chinese sailor Horace (Chen Jin Hao), who were also rested for the 6,500nm race from Cape Town to Melbourne.
They replace Fabien Delahaye, Stu Bannatyne and Black (Liu Xue) for stage four of the 45,000 nautical mile race around the planet.
31-year-old Mettraux is originally from Geneva but is now based in Lorient, France, and brings formidable talent and experience to the red boat.
In addition to her valuable time spent racing on the Volvo Ocean 65 last edition, she is an accomplished solo sailor, having finished second in the Mini-Transat in 2013, the best finish in that race for a female sailor, and seventh in the Solitaire du Figaro in 2016.
Earlier this year, alongside Bertrand Delesne, she finished fourth in the Class40 fleet in the Transat Jacques Vabre.
According to Dongfeng Race Team skipper Charles Caudrelier, Mettraux – whose sister Elodie-Jane is also racing as part of Turn the Tide on Plastic – was a natural choice for Leg 4.
“We wanted someone as tough and competitive as Marie, and Justine was the obvious choice,” he explained. “She is very experienced as a solo racer but also has the Team SCA background. She knows several of our sailors well, so I have no doubt that she will settle in quickly during the leg to Hong Kong.”
Mettraux is looking forward to the challenge of joining Dongfeng Race Team. “I am really happy to join the team for a leg,” she said. “It’s a first for me to sail with the really good sailors who are on Dongfeng, so I am really looking forward to joining them for Leg 4.
“Marie wanted to have a break during the race which I think is clever because the Volvo Ocean Race is very long and very tiring, so I am giving her a break on this leg and hopefully she can have a good rest and come back in really good shape,” she added.
On Dongfeng she will sail – as she did on Team SCA – as a headsail trimmer and she is looking forward to racing with some familiar faces. “I know Carolijn Brouwer well,” she said. “We sailed together on SCA and I really enjoyed sailing with her. I also know Kevin Escoffier, who is a good friend of my partner, and Fabien Delahaye who has worked with me on routing in my Figaro campaign.”
Brouwer said she will be sad not see Riou on board for Leg 4 but is delighted to be sailing with Mettraux again. “I am more than confident that Justine is going to fit in really well in this team,” she said. “We did a lot of sailing together with SCA – she is a really, really talented sailor and she showed that during the SCA campaign when she became an extremely good trimmer and a very organised one too, which is also important.”
Everything you need to know about Justine Mettraux
Born: 4 October 1986
In: Geneva, Switzerland
Career highlights include:
2013: 3rd in the Mini Transat 6.50
2014-15: 6th place Volvo Ocean Race with Team SCA
2017: 7th in La Solitaire du Figaro with Team Work
2017: 4th in the Transat Jacques Vabre Class 40 with B Delesne on Team Work