Sailing: Chinese team signs up for Volvo Ocean Race

PARIS (AFP) - A team from China, backed by leading carmakers Dongfeng, is to compete in the next edition of the gruelling Volvo Ocean Race in 2014-15, the organisers announced on Wednesday.

"The team will represent China and will have the interests of Chinese sailing at its core with a significant number of Chinese in the final race crew as well as its support team," race organisers said in a press release.

The Chinese campaign will be run by leading sailing management company OC Sport, which has been responsible for numerous race campaigns over the past 15 years - including those of record-breaking British female sailor, Ellen MacArthur.

It will, however, be the first time that OC Sport and its executive chairman Mark Turner, have been involved in running a Volvo Ocean Race campaign.

"We are aiming for a successful race entry with a Chinese team, not just a successful entry - this is an absolute at the heart of this very exciting and challenging project," he said.

Team director Bruno Dubois highlighted the initial focus of the campaign. "Our priority is the recruitment and training of the Chinese sailors. This is very clearly the biggest challenge we have - to condense many years of experience of the average Volvo Ocean Race crew into just 10 months.

"But equally this process is at the heart of the project; we want to leave a real legacy that will both motivate the Chinese to want to embrace the sport of sailing, and be able to develop the talent so that, ultimately, a future campaign could be 100 per cent Chinese."

Team Dongfeng follow Team Sanya (2011-12) and Green Dragon (2008-09) as the third Chinese entry in the race's 40-year history, the latter a joint-entry with Ireland.

Two Chinese sailors have previously participated in the Volvo Ocean Race - media crew member Guo Chuan in 2008-09 on Green Dragon and "Tiger" Teng Jianghe in 2011-12 on Team Sanya.

Team Dongfeng is the third entry so far to announce its participation in the 12th edition of the race in 2014-15, after the all-female Team SCA and Team Abu Dhabi.

Setting off from the Spanish Mediterranean port of Alicante in October 2014, the Volvo Ocean Race will oppose identical single-hulled 20-metre long boats in a multi-stage, team race around the globe lasting up to nine months.