West Coast New Area

Waves of excitement for tired crew

By Xie Chuanjiao in Qingdao, Shandong | (China Daily ) | 2018-03-20

The Qingdao finished fifth in the race from Sanya to Qingdao but, by racking up bonus points at a "scoring gate", secured second spot in the overall standings.

"Of course we could have used a conservative strategy to finish in the top three, but then we could not have challenged in the overall rankings," E said.

Liu Yulei, the boat's other Chinese crew member, was just as psyched by the journey as his compatriot.

"I want to see more of the world and have new experiences on the ocean," said 23-year-old Liu, who received a month's training in Britain prior to the race.

"Even having enough training and being well prepared, I still faced a lot of difficulties in the race, especially the unpredictable weather."

Liu was in awe of the sense of camaraderie among the international crew, with members on duty for six hours during the day and four hours at night.

"No matter what the difficulties and how tired they were, they were always devoted," Liu said.

"They tidily wore their uniform when starting duty and always ended the shift soaked to the skin."

E and Liu were selected to race through the Qingdao Ambassador Program, which has been running since the Clipper Race first partnered with the city of Qingdao in the event's 2005-06 edition.

The program aims to promote China's "Sailing City", build on its 2008 Olympic legacy and inspire more Chinese to participate in the sport.

Over the past 13 years, the program has produced promising new talent such as Guo Chuan and Vicky Song, who became the first Chinese woman to circumnavigate the globe when she completed the 2013-14 Clipper race.

This is the seventh time the race has included Qingdao as a host port, with the partnership secured until 2019-20.

However, it's the first time the race's fleet berthed at the newly constructed Wanda Yacht Club, a state-of-the-art facility in Qingdao West Coast New Area.

Chris Kobusch, Qingdao skipper, said: "The race from Sanya to Qingdao was very interesting. It was a tough start and it was upwind, but then it was a nicer finish for the team and it was mostly downwind conditions.

"Coming into port with the fireworks and seeing all the people come out to support us was incredible."

A delegation led by Zang Aimin, vice-president of Qingdao Major International Sailing Events (Festivals) Organizing Committee, welcomed all the teams as they reached the dock.

"Over the past 14 years, the Qingdao has sailed round the world six times. This, its seventh time, has been her best performance so far," said Zang.

"We hope that our ocean warriors will enjoy wonderful times in our city."

Founded by Robin Knox-Johnston, the biennial Clipper Round the World yacht race usually lasts 10 months and covers about 40,000 nautical miles.

To date, about 40 percent of crews have had no sailing experience before registering for the race, giving about 5,000 people the opportunity to realize their nautical dreams.

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