Dongfeng Race Team have taken second place into Hong Kong – claiming the runner-up spot behind local boat Scallywag.
Charles Caudrelier's team docked into the Hong Kong Race Village at Kai Tak Park Runway at 20:33 UTC on Friday evening, after 17 days 17 hours and 18 minutes of racing on Leg 4.
Dongfeng sailor Horace, who is from nearby Shenzen and learnt how to sail in Hong Kong and has opened a sailing school nearby, said: "I'm so proud. I didn't expect so many people on the pontoon to welcome us. It's very exciting to represent Dongfeng and sail into Hong Kong.
"It's a place with special memories for me. In 2011, I met my mentor here – Frank Pong, who gave me my sailing skills, and taught me how to be a good sailor."
He continued: "I want to thank my crew. We have nice memories of this leg for sure, and it was very difficult for us. You can't imagine – the Doldrums has no wind, and is a big challenge for all the team, mostly the navigator. Congratulations to Scallywag on winning a very tough leg."
Dongfeng's finish behind Scallywag means a memorable 1-2 for Asian sailing, and that's great news for the region, according to Dongfeng skipper Charles Caudrelier.
"It's very important for Asia," he said. "I'm very happy about this result – of course we wanted to arrive first here, when we arrived first into Sanya it was amazing for our sponsor, but it's still good for us.
He continued: "We're taking back points on MAPFRE. The leg was very complicated, and even though we sailed very well, the Doldrums was a nightmare. You never know what's going to happen – and Scallywag caught a couple of clouds and took the lead."
Dongfeng went into Leg 4 without navigator Pascal Bidegorry, who stepped off due to injury and was replaced by Volvo Ocean Race winning skipper Franck Cammas at the navigation desk.
"Franck is a very good sailor, and it was very positive," said Caudrelier. "|He didn't know the boat when he arrived, and he had a lot of new ideas. He did a good job with the navigation and we were leading the race before the Doldrums.
After four legs of the race – and some brutal sailing conditions in the Southern Ocean – Caudrelier admitted that his crew were feeling the strain.
"I realised (in Melbourne) that we were all exhausted and I think it's good to have fresh people like Franck and Justine (Mettraux) on the boat. We can feel that the people who've done all the legs are very tired. When Pascal got injured I was a bit worried, as he is a key member of the team, but the result is good and he is coming back fresh – he has had a good break and that will be important going forward."