The seventh Clipper Round the World Yacht Race Stopover in Qingdao is set to be one of the biggest yet, with the fleet of eleven ocean racing yachts to be the first to test out the newly constructed Wanda Yacht Club, a state of the art facility in Western Qingdao.
Just as the Clipper Race was the first to trial the Olympic Sailing Centre ahead of Qingdao hosting the sailing events for the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, the Wanda Yacht Club will be put to the test both in terms of its marine infrastructure and event hosting capabilities during the Clipper Race Stopover.
Legendary sailor and Clipper Race Co-founder and Chairman Sir Robin Knox Johnston said: “I am looking forward to seeing the Clipper Race fleet arrive at the very impressive Wanda Yacht Club.
“The development is first-class and the facilities are as good as you would find in any top sailing destination around the world.
“The Qingdao Stopover at the Wanda Yacht Club will be a landmark moment showcasing how sailing is continuously growing in China’s Sailing City, and it is a privilege to be the first major sailing event to take advantage of this brand-new marina.”
The importance of sailing to Qingdao can be seen in the staggering growth of its Marine Industry in the past twelve months alone. According the Qingdao Municipal Bureau of Statistics, the total output of Qingdao’s marine industry exceeded $45 billion in 2017, a 15.7 percent increase from 2016, and it accounts for 26.4 per cent of the city’s whole GDP.
Mr. Ji Gaoshang said: “Qingdao is blessed with decent natural and geographic features which makes it an excellent destination for maritime leisure. By working with the world’s top-class events such as Clipper Race, Qingdao has become the national centre city of sailing sport and industry, which has been conducted in line with the nation’s strategy of ‘One Belt One Road’ and 21st Century Maritime Silk Road policies.
“As the model city of ‘Made in China 2025’ Project, Qingdao has been pushing for new development by utilizing its high profile of ‘Sailing City’, for instance, the third generation of Clipper 70 fleet which debuted in Clipper 2013-14 Race were built in Qingdao Mazarin boatyard. Qingdao’s maritime industry has leaped forward in a more widened and comprehensive manner.”
The city of Qingdao is the longest serving Host Port and Team Partner of the Clipper Race. The race first featured in the Clipper 2005-06 Race, and has been a crucial part of the 40,000 nautical mile global race route ever since.
More than 700 people representing 41 different nationalities are taking part in the Clipper 2017-18 Race, with 200 of those crew members currently racing in the 1,700 nautical mile Race 8: Sailing City Qingdao Cup from Sanya to Qingdao.
There are six different nationalities on board the Qingdao team, including E Xianhong and Liu Yulei, two of the 14 Ambassador Crew representing Qingdao in the Clipper 2017-18 Race. Qingdao first implemented the ambassador tag team in 2005 as a unique way of promoting the city and its event hosting facilities, to build on its Olympic legacy and to inspire the Chinese nation by encouraging future sailing participation. And the Qingdao Ambassador programme has been a great success, producing both Guo Chuan and Vicky Song, who became the first ever Chinese woman to circumnavigate the planet when she completed in the Clipper 2013-14 Race.
The Qingdao team, Skippered by German yachtsman Chris Kobusch, is currently second in the overall Clipper 2017-18 Race standings, one point behind leaders Sanya Serenity Coast. So far Qingdao has featured on the podium twice, coming third in both Race 4 from Fremantle to Sydney in Australia, and in Race 7 from the Whitsundays to Sanya.
Speaking about the upcoming arrival in his team’s home port, Qingdao Skipper Chris Kobusch said: “Race 8 to Qingdao has been the one the team has been looking forward to the most since the Clipper 2017-18 Race began in Liverpool last August.
“The welcome the race receives in Qingdao is legendary, and it will be a very proud moment when we arrive into our Host Port. The race from Sanya hasn’t been an easy one so far with the majority of the race up to now being upwind, but the whole team is working hard in order to achieve a good result.”
The Clipper Race is seen as one of the world’s toughest endurance challenges and is unique in that it is raced by everyday people with each of the eleven teams being led by a professional skipper. In 1996, Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, the first person to sail solo, non-stop around the world in 1968-69, founded the race as a way to give everyone, no matter their sailing experience, the chance to become an ocean racer.
Approximately 40% of crew members have never sailed before they sign up for the 40,000 nautical miles circumnavigation, which is divided into eight legs and features six ocean crossings.
The Clipper Race fleet is expected to arrive in Qingdao between 13 – 16 March 2018 and will be berthed at the Wanda Yacht Club until Friday 23 March, when the eleven teams will embark on the Mighty Pacific Leg 6, a 5,600 nautical mile race across the North Pacific from Qingdao to Seattle.