The Clipper 2011-12 Round the World Yacht Race fleet are preparing for Leg 6 which is set to start from Qingdao in China, bound for San Francisco Bay, on Sunday 4 March at 1330 local time.
Big California welcome awaits crew at end of punishing Pacific crossing - Clipper Round the World Yacht Race 2011-12
The Mayor of Oakland, California addressed the Clipper crew via video today. The Clipper Race will be hosted in California by the 2012 Strictly Sail Pacific Boat Show at Oakland’s showpiece marina in Jack London Square.
'We hope you have a fast and safe sail,' Oakland Mayor Jean Quan told crews in a specially pre-recorded message. 'We are particularly looking forward to seeing you in Jack London Square and visiting the yachts during the 2012 Strictly Sail Pacific Boat Show.
'Oakland has just been named one of the best places to visit in 2012 so we hope you will enjoy your stay here. Please accept my greetings and in the words of an old Chinese saying – May the wind be to your backs.'
Clipper Race Director, Joff Bailey, says this is a notoriously challenging leg of the race and the crews will be looking forward to arriving in California: 'This is one of the toughest and longest stages of the race. In previous editions the crews have taken quite a pounding on their Pacific crossing, so they will all be looking forward to the warm welcome awaiting them in Oakland. I am really pleased that 2012 Strictly Sail Pacific Boat Show will be hosting the Clipper Race fleet in Jack London Square; it’s the perfect event to showcase our global race fleet.'
The yachts are expected to arrive in Oakland 1-7 April. The winning team of Leg 6 will be presented with the 'Strictly Sail Pacific Clipper Cup' on the opening day of the show, 12 April. Leg 7 to New York starts 14 April.
'The Strictly Sail Pacific Boat Show is thrilled to host the California stopover of the prestigious Clipper 11-12 Round the World Yacht Race,' said Sail America Executive Director and Strictly Sail Pacific Producer Jonathan Banks. 'The ten Race Yachts and 250-plus crew will add a fascinating dimension to the Strictly Sail Pacific Boat Show and will bring the excitement of ocean racing to the City of Oakland.'
Adding relevance to this leg linking China with California, Mayor Quan is the first Asian American woman mayor of a major US City. She added 'Oakland celebrates a long history of trade with China, and I cannot think of a more perfect location than Strictly Sail Pacific and Jack London Square, named after the author, sailor and adventurer Jack London, to host the Clipper 11-12 Round the World Yacht Race. This is an amazing opportunity for the entire Bay Area to get up-close with the crew and yachts that are competing in this one-of-a-kind race around the world.'
The crew are now in more reflective mood following the extensive and colourful ceremonies and celebrations enjoyed in Qingdao over the last ten days. Chinese hospitality has been very generous with crew spending time with local families and being introduced to cultural and tourist attractions. The media interest has been huge, with daily coverage and the prizegiving shown live on television. The ‘rock star’ treatment is still in evidence but the attention of crew is now turning to the Pacific Ocean.
Looking ahead in more detail to Race 9, Joff reports that, 'this one is a monster,' as the crews prepare for the 6,000-mile leg from Qingdao to Oakland. The fleet will cross the Pacific Ocean and potentially spend 35 days at sea.
'After leaving the pomp and ceremony of a stunningly colourful visit to Qingdao, the crew will face fog and fishing boats as the fleet endures cold conditions for the first week at sea,' continues Joff. 'Snow could make a regular appearance and the tropical sailing conditions will feel like a distant
'The first key milestone will be off the southern tip of Japan and then tactics come in to play again as skippers are faced with the age-old dilemma: take the shortest route by going further north and risk stormy conditions or stay south sailing slightly further with better conditions and the risk of light airs.
'Whatever the choice, the Pacific Ocean is the largest in the world and the first week will blend with the second, third and fourth as the teams cross its mighty expanse. Keeping a competitive focus, preserving kit and looking after crew morale, will be a constant challenge.
'The final stage of the race is likely to run into variable conditions as the California coast and the Golden Gate Bridge finishing line appears over the horizon.'
Clipper Round the World Yacht Race website