Clipper 2011-12 Round the World Yacht Race fleet are on day one of race eight, from Singapore to Qingdao. After a week-long stopover in spectacular Singapore the ten yachts taking part in the race set sail this morning from the exclusive Marina at Keppel Bay, where they have been based since last Saturday.
The send-off was no less spectacular than the welcome festivities, with drummers upping the tempo as the teams manned their boats in preparation for race start, as well as the traditional tossing of the Yusheng, or raw fish salad, by skippers and VIP guests, to herald abundance and good fortune during the Chinese Spring Festival.
Speaking at the departure ceremony, Dr Lee Boon Yang, Chairman of Keppel Corporation said, 'As we celebrated friendship and goodwill over the past week, we are also happy that through hosting this stopover of the Clipper Race fleet at our Marina, we have played our part to promote Singapore as the sailing and waterfront lifestyle destination in this part of the world.'
Marina at Keppel Bay, home to Keppel Bay Sailing Academy (KBSA), Singapore’s only RYA-recognised sail training centre and the only accredited Clipper Training centre outside of the UK, is part of the world-class Keppel Bay waterfront precinct.
Skipper of the Singapore yacht, Ben Bowley, said, 'It has been a fantastic stopover. It’s been very busy but it’s been a great opportunity to give something back to our sponsors. It’s been brilliant to come and see Marina at Keppel Bay, where the new Reflections development is looking fantastic, and wonderful to experience Singapore’s delights. We’ve had some great meals and good times.'
At the start line for race eight from Singapore to the Chinese sailing city of Qingdao, the teams had 12 knots of breeze from the north east, making for a relatively sedate beginning to the 2,600-mile race. It will be one of extremes, taking the teams from the melting heat and humidity of Singapore to the freezing temperatures of a northern hemisphere winter as they race up through the South China Sea, past Taiwan and on into the East China Sea, where conditions for both boats and crews can be brutal.
Gold Coast Australia mistimed their run to the line and crossed six seconds ahead of the start signal, prompting Assistant Race Director, Justin Taylor, to issue an individual recall. Their mistake meant home team favourites, Singapore, won the race to cross the start line with the tightly bunched fleet following close behind them, New York, De Lage Landen and Derry-Londonderry hot on their heels on port tack. Geraldton Western Australia and Visit Finland followed, with Welcome to Yorkshire, Qingdao and Edinburgh Inspiring Capital concluding the order over the line before Gold Coast Australia completed their penalty to join the rest of the fleet racing up the Singapore Straits.
During their stay the international crews have explored the island state, including a tour organised by Singapore Tourism Board, which began with a tai chi session and a traditional roti prata breakfast, before shopping in Little India, lunch in Chinatown and a Singapore Sling at Raffles Hotel.
Clipper Race founder and Chairman, Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, said, 'I know very well that the crew have greatly enjoyed their time in Singapore where they have participated in fantastic tourism experiences, exploring Singapore by day and night. Over the last week, they have gained a real sense of what this unique island has to offer.
'Our international yacht partners have also maximised every minute of our stopover here and there has been encouraging evidence of new contacts made and successful business completed over our stay – something which is at the heart of the Clipper Race ethos.'
Clipper 11-12 is ‘raced by people like you’; crew members come from all walks of life and between them represent more than 40 nationalities. The youngest is 18 years old and there is no upper age limit.
Several hundred people got on board to visit the yachts and attended presentations about signing up for Clipper 13-14 and beyond.
In addition many of the sponsors of the Clipper 11-12 Round the World Yacht Race have travelled to Singapore to leverage their partnership with the event to establish and build on trade, business, tourism, education and cultural relationships, attracting delegates from across Singapore and South East Asia.
The fleet is due to arrive in Qingdao, China, between 22 and 25 February. Clipper Round the World Yacht Race website