In the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race, the first teams have started to arrive in Qingdao, China, following one of the most challenging legs of the edition of the race: Great Britain, Mission Performance and Derry~Londonderry~Doire arrived at the Olympic Sailing Center this morning (10 March) local time.
Great Britain on the podium in Qingdao
'We had a really good race, but it was a very tough race. We have all our fingers crossed that we have done really well with our elapsed time,' said Great Britain skipper Simon Talbot. 'As a team we are really pleased especially when you consider how tricky this race has been.'
However, variable wind conditions now being experienced by the remainder of the fleet that is still racing have forced the course to be shortened. The forecast is for the wind to veer more behind the fleet, but also to die. Although this will allow a more direct course to be sailed to Qingdao, it will adversely affect speeds. Estimated times of arrival are already being affected. Shortening the course will prevent these slipping further and allow the teams to arrive in Qingdao to better prepare for Leg 6 (Race 10).
The teams have reported times at several waypoints which were included in the course instructions for Race 9.1 from Hong Kong to Qingdao to allow for the eventuality of shortening the course. The waypoint located adjacent to Shanghai in the East China Sea will now be used. This does not change the relative positions of the first three boats that finished today.
Great Britain crossed the Shanghai waypoint with an elapsed time of five days six hours 26 minutes, setting the bar high. Race 9.1 is being run on an elapsed time basis following staggered start times out of Hong Kong after an unscheduled pit-stop for rigging repairs.’
Mission Performance at the finish
Both Derry~Londonderry~Doire and Mission Performance are proud of their teams who achieved elapsed times at the Shanghai waypoint of 5days 8hours 30minutes and 5days 18hours 20minutes respectively.
The founder of the Clipper Race, Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, was quick to offer his congratulations to the first three teams to arrive today. He said: 'The fleet has contended with some extremely challenging and frustrating issues during this race. However, rather than give up, each team has pulled together to overcome the problems, all while tackling some of the most challenging stretches of ocean in the Clipper Race route. Nothing should detract from the teams’ achievements; every point awarded has been earned and is well deserved.'
Mission Performance Skipper Matt Mitchell said the strong finish had given his crew a real morale booster: 'Everyone feels fantastic, we do have a very small team but everyone gave 110 percent and I couldn’t have asked more of them.
'There were times when I was asking them to change the sails and they really didn’t want to. In all fairness to the team it didn’t take too much persuasion. We really feel that we have performed the best we possibly could for what was a very tough race.'
Derry~Londonderry~Doire arrives in Qingdao
Derry~Londonderry~Doire was also in high spirits as the team joined the other boats in bright sunshine to be greeted by local VIPs, massed bands of drummers, dancers, throngs of well wishers and fireworks in a spectacular welcome ceremony. Scores of media fought to get pictures and interviews with the first Clipper Race crew to arrive in China’s ‘sailing city’.
Skipper Seam McCarter said: 'To arrive here today in Qingdao, China, is a massive relief. To finish Race 9.1, one of the toughest races in the entire Clipper Round the World Yacht Race, to finish it in one piece with the crew in good form, is just a massive relief.
'We were lucky to dodge the worst of the weather but it definitely wasn’t easy. We faced some very tough conditions in the Taiwan Strait, and we were racing very closely with Great Britain and Mission Performance.'
The revised elapsed times are as follows:
Great Britain – 5 days 6 hours 26 minutes
Derry~Londonderry~Doire – 5d 8h 30m
Mission Performance – 5d 18h 20m
Invest Africa – 6d 1h 25m
Switzerland – 6d 12h 48m
Qingdao – 6d 14h 50m
Team Garmin - 6d 19h 29m
Henri Lloyd, Old Pulteney and OneDLL are expected to cross the revised line within the next 24 hours. OneDLL could potentially achieve a shorter elapsed time than those that have already finished below third place, but the other two already have longer elapsed times.
The shortest elapsed time receives 12 points and will reduce accordingly in time order. Jamaica Get All Right and PSP Logistics have retired and will be awarded one point each.
Progress of the fleet and latest elapsed times will be posted to the official Clipper Race website and tracker here.
The finishing times do not reflect the team’s places in Race 9.1; this will be calculated on their individual elapsed times. The official verified result and award of points will be announced Friday 14 March.
The full race standings can be viewed here.