Clipper 2011-12 Round the World Yacht Race fleet made their entrance to Marina at Keppel Bay after completing race seven of the world’s longest ocean race, from the Gold Coast to Singapore.
A light beacon rising up from the ground, dancers, pyrotechnics and senior dignitaries, including Singapore’s Deputy Prime Minister, welcomed the fleet this morning.
Dr Lee Boon Yang, Chairman of Keppel Corporation, and Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, the founder and Chairman of the Clipper Race, ignited the ‘Torch of Passion’, setting in motion the welcome celebrations for the fleet, and guest of honour, Mr Teo Chee Hean, Deputy Prime Minister and Coordinating Minister for National Security and Minister for Home Affairs, presented the Singapore Cup to the winning crew from Gold Coast Australia. The team is led by Tasmanian yachtsman, Richard Hewson.
Deborah Miller, from Surfers Paradise on the Gold Coast, who joined the yacht in her home port to race to California, said, 'It was awesome to be welcomed in Singapore with such grand festivities.
'As we entered Marina at Keppel Bay people were lined up everywhere along the marina shouting and waving their Singaporean flags. I got to shake the Deputy Prime Minister’s hand, which was very exciting and now I’m really looking forward to catch up with family and friends who are waiting for me.'
The victorious Gold Coast Australia crew was presented with the Keppel-sponsored Singapore Cup after beating Derry-Londonderry by just 79 minutes. The other Australian team, Geraldton Western Australia, also secured their first podium position of the competition and were handed their first pennant of the campaign to fly proudly from the forestay of their boat.
Derry-Londonderry’s John Harkin was amazed at the welcome given upon the team’s arrival.
'This has been one of the most formal and biggest receptions that we’ve had. It was very exciting to sail into Keppel Bay, especially knowing it will be our first podium place, which we’ve been waiting for a long time.
'It was a great honour to be on stage with all those dignitaries – a very special feeling. I am really looking forward to be taking in the atmosphere over the next few days, before we set off on Saturday for the next part of the race,' continued John.
The fantastic welcome and the fact his team were celebrating their first podium position made today a day to remember for Geraldton Western Australia crew member, Russell Sandbach.
'It was fantastic. We had great fun coming in with everyone lined up and waiving to welcome us to Singapore.
'Today wasn’t our last time on the podium. This time we met Singapore’s Deputy Prime Minister, but next time we will be there collecting our pennant, as we are moving steadily up the fleet.
'It is amazing to see all these new buildings around Keppel Bay – a great setting and I can’t wait to come back here when we leave to race towards Qingdao in China next Saturday,' explained Russell.
'It’s definitely one of the most breathtaking cities that we’ve been to so far and the architecture looks amazing,' revealed Edinburgh Inspiring Capital’s Nick Barclay.
'I was quite overwhelmed. As we came in we saw scatterings of people outside the marina, but as we got the actual marina, it got more congested and the size of the welcome just became more and more evident.'
This is the fourth visit of the fleet to Keppel Bay, whose skyline is now dominated by the curving towers of the stunning new Reflections at Keppel Bay development, designed by master architect Daniel Libeskind, who is also the master planner for the World Trade Center site in New York City. Residents, who have this month begun moving in to the new buildings, also took part in the celebrations, cheering as the yachts sailed past into the marina, while others on boats sounded horns.
Race 8 will see the fleet head to Qingdao’s home port, something crew member Zhiguo Qu, known as Brett to his fellow crew, is looking forward to after arriving in Singapore.
'What a fantastic marina it is here in Singapore – just as spectacular as the Sailing Centre in Qingdao. I think a beautiful place like this will bring us good luck for the next part of the race home from Singapore to Qingdao.
'We’re lucky to be here for some many days to get to enjoy Singapore and its surroundings, which I’m looking forward to,' he added.
'I also gave Singapore’s Deputy Prime Minister a quick hand-shake and was very pleased to see Sir Robin Knox-Johnston was here to welcome me too,' revealed De Lage Landen’s Michal Szmidt.
'I’m looking forward to seeing all my friends and colleagues from work from different offices around the world that have gathered here for me.'
Speaking at the welcome celebrations, Keppel Chairman, Dr Lee Boon Yang said, 'The Clipper Race has been an excellent platform to showcase Singapore and Keppel round the world. And with the world following the Clipper Race fleet to our island in the sun this morning, it will present Singapore as a regional sailing hub and a destination for world sporting events such as the Southeast Asian Games, which Singapore will host also for the fourth time in 2015.'
The Clipper Race Chairman, Sir Robin Knox-Johnston said, 'This is the fourth time that there has been a Singapore entry in the Clipper Race and over the eight years we have witnessed the Caribbean and Reflections at Keppel Bay developments around the marina rise from the ground. But it’s not only the growth of Keppel’s premium developments that impresses, every race we return to see their award-winning marina fill and grow. Of course, with the race we visit a huge number of impressive marinas around the world, but it is rare to find a marina which manages to combine efficiency and style whilst caring for its environment, so it was great to hear that Keppel was awarded the Green Maritime Company 2011 award.
'It’s not only Marina at Keppel Bay and its residences that have grown over the span of our partnership with Keppel. The Clipper Race has also grown, with more than 40 nationalities represented among the crews and we have a growing number of international partners with a variety of marketing and business aims. Each race sees our sponsors using our platform in new ways to achieve return on their objectives.'
New York’s Lloyd Cosby was certainly looking forward to exploring after he and his American team arrived at Marina in Keppel Bay.
'The amazing architecture and unique sky line stood out as we sailed in and I’m looking forward to spending some time in this metropolitan city.
'It was an amazing welcome with people lined up on the beautiful quayside with horns and flags. It was a really phenomenal way to get in.'
Riikka Puustinen, a round the world crew member on Visit Finland, was equally impressed with the surroundings.
'It was a very friendly welcome and people were waiving from their balconies. The architecture in the marina really stands out and I’m very pleased to be here and to explore some more in Singapore before the race up to Qingdao continues next Saturday.
'There were quite a few Finnish people on the quayside to welcome us into Keppel Bay, which was great. It was really nice to see them and the rest of the crowd from all around the world here in Singapore.'
Meanwhile Welcome to Yorkshire’s Richard Hilson was hoping to make the most of the time the yachts will spend in the cosmopolitan city.
'I’ve planned quite a few things to do while I’m in town and it will be nice to be on land and see some different faces before we get ready to sail towards Qingdao on Saturday.'
'It was great to see people from Singapore and the rest of the world gather to welcome us as we sailed into Marina at Keppel Bay.'
In Singapore a busy programme of sailing and shore-side events will enable the sponsors of the Clipper Race, including Gold Coast Tourism, to leverage their partnership with the event to develop and build on trade, tourism, education and cultural links. The Clipper Race will host a networking event at the British High Commission to introduce trade opportunities with their partners to Singaporean businesses.
The fleet will set sail from Marina at Keppel Bay on Saturday 4 February, bound for Qingdao, China. Overall standings after race seven
1. Gold Coast Australia 73 points
2. Visit Finland 53 points
3. De Lage Landen 46 points
4. New York 40 points
5. Singapore 38 points
6. Welcome to Yorkshire 37 points
7. Derry-Londonderry 35 points
8. Qingdao 34 points
9. Geraldton Western Australia 31 points
10. Edinburgh Inspiring Capital 14 points Clipper Round the World Yacht Race website