West Coast New Area

Qingdao claims first Clipper Race win

( | 2018-04-21


Clipper Race Qingdao approaches Seattle on Thursday night April 19, 2018. [Photo provided to]   

Qingdao has claimed victory in the Mighty Pacific Leg 6 of the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race: a 5,600 nautical mile marathon across the most remote and inhospitable stretches of ocean on earth from Qingdao to Seattle, USA.

The Qingdao team, skippered by 32-year-old German yachtsman Chris Kobusch, crossed the finish line off the northwest coast of the USA at 22:27 UTC on Thursday 19 April, some 27 days after setting off from China to claim its first race win of the 2017-18 edition.

Whilst Qingdao managed a convincing win, the racing was once again down to the wire for the remaining race position with second to seventh placed teams separated by just 8 nautical miles (nm), during the final day of racing across the planet’s largest expanse of ocean.

Speaking on arrival, Chris said: "It is an incredible feeling to win Race 9 and I am very happy for the team. Everyone was anxious that Sanya Serenity Coast and Unicef would catch us, we were watching them on AIS as they appeared on and off.

"I think when the big low came through and strong winds came it was probably the angles we sailed and the sail settings that clinched the win, but it was a tough race with some very strong competition."

Fellow Chinese team Sanya Serenity Coast, led by Australian Skipper Wendy Tuck, crossed the finish line at 08:01:15 UTC on 20/04 to claim its fifth podium of the Clipper 2017-18 Race and maintain its lead in the overall standings. Unicef, Skippered by British Sailor Bob Beggs, finished third.

The race from Qingdao to Seattle, the ninth of thirteen races that makes up the Clipper Race circuit, included some of the toughest conditions faced so far in the eleventh edition of the biennial ocean adventure. Following a light wind battle off the coast of Japan, which added nearly a week onto the overall time spent at sea, the eleven Clipper Race teams experienced a Phenomenal Sea State, which saw the fleet battle waves of over 14 metres and gusts of up to 80 knots. The skill and preparedness of Chris and his fellow Skippers ensured all emerged the front unscathed, and also set up some incredible racing, with the 70-foot ocean racing yachts reaching record speeds of up to 35 knots.

Hong Ma (Helen), 29, from Chang Chun, who is representing Qingdao as part of its Ambassador Programme said: "This is the best experience with the Clipper Race so far, it was a tough one but a brilliant one.

"Describing the race is difficult but it is like you are looking for something and you find it; love, teamwork and spirit. You find it in the middle of the ocean, in the middle of nowhere, and you are so motivated. It has been an incredible opportunity to represent Qingdao.

"It has been the most incredible experience and I would recommend it to anyone, regardless of if they can sail or not. You will not regret it!"

Helen and fellow Qingdao Ambassador Zhang ‘Bobby’ Yibbo, are two of five Chinese crew on board for Leg 6. They are all non-professional sailors and just like 40 per cent of the Clipper Race crew, they had never sailing before undertaking the rigorous four-week Clipper Race training.

The Clipper Race is the only of its kind for amateurs and was founded more than 20 years ago by Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, the first person to sail solo and non-stop around the world as a way to give anyone the opportunity to become ocean racers. More than 5,000 have done just that through the Clipper Race, though more people have still climbed Mount Everest than circumnavigated the globe under sail.

As well as picking up 12 points for the race win, Qingdao will also collect four bonus points: three for being first through the Scoring Gate and one for being third fastest through the Elliot Brown Ocean Sprint.

This is the first win and third podium overall for Qingdao, who went into the race across the North Pacific Ocean in second place in the overall standings.

Qingdao is the longest serving Team Partner and Host Port of the Clipper Race, with the fleet marking its recent record seventh visit by being hosted at the Wanda Yacht Club, a newly constructed, state of the art facility in the West Coast New Area of Qingdao.

General Director of Qingdao Municipal Sport Bureau/Executive Secretary of Qingdao Major International Sailing Events(Festivals) Organizing Committee, Mr. Ji GaoShang said: "Huge congratulations to Qingdao Team, Skipper Chris Kobusch and all his crew on their success of winning Leg Six Race 9(Qingdao to Seattle) with an absolute advantage, 9 millions of Qingdao citizens are very proud of you! We look forward to Qingdao team keeping it up for greater achievements for the rest of the race!"

The full Clipper 2017-18 Race fleet is expected to have arrived at Seattle by Monday 22 April. The fleet will be berthed at Bell Harbor Marina until the first race of the US Coast-to-Coast Leg 7 from Seattle to Panama begins on Sunday 29 April.

Seattle is the tenth out of 13 stops on the global 40,000 nautical mile Clipper Race circuit which began in Liverpool, UK, in August 2017. The race will return to Liverpool’s historic Albert Dock for Race Finish on Saturday 28 July 2018.