'The Clipper 11-12 Race fleet departs Qingdao, China to start Race 9, to Oakland, San Francisco Bay - Clipper 11-12 Round the World Yacht Race'
The Clipper 2011-12 Round the World Yacht Race fleet has departed from Qingdao today in preparation of the race 9 start to Oakland, San Francisco Bay.
The spectacular welcome ceremonies the individual teams received upon their arrival at the Olympic Sailing Centre was exceeded by an even more lavish departure ceremony shown live on Chinese television.
The red carpet was rolled out for the ten skippers and crew from the Clipper 11-12 Round the World Yacht Race fleet. Draped in their yellow silk ceremonial cloaks and white hats, each skipper was presented with a colourful combat flag displaying the name of their team.
Ian Conchie, skipper of home port entry Qingdao reflects on his days in port saying, 'The interest from everybody has been amazing. Whether it has been from the officials, the media or the many residents that have stopped us in the street, everyone has just been so interested in getting to know us and find out more about the Clipper Race.'
Amongst the Chinese dignitaries attending the departure ceremony was Madam Zang, Honorary Chairman of Qingdao Yachting Association, who wished the teams good luck on the forthcoming race. She said, 'The arrival of the fleet adds to the dynamism of Qingdao, the Sailing Capital of China, and offered an opportunity to citizens to experience the charm and excitement of this top global sailing event. I wish you a safe and fast voyage across the Pacific Ocean.'
The Clipper 11-12 Race fleet then left the marina to the sound of drums and thousands of cheering locals, as well as the sights of dragon dancers and fireworks. However, an icy blast brought snow showers sweeping across the Olympic Sailing Centre just before the boats slipped their lines and headed out for the start line in reducing visibility.
'Between setting the start line and the ten minute signal, visibility on the water deteriorated to less than half a mile. At times we could not see the pin end of the start line. After a short postponement to see if conditions improved, I decided that it was unwise to start the race with the low visibility,' says Race Director Joff Bailey.
The ten Clipper 11-12 Round the World Yacht Race entries are now making their way to a waypoint approximately 25nm offshore. When conditions allow, the nominated lead skipper Ben Bowley from Singapore will line the yachts up and start Race 9. This is now expected to be Monday morning (local time).
The fleet is expected to arrive in Oakland, California between 1-7 April and will be hosted by the 2012 Strictly Sail Pacific Boat Show in Jack London Square. The winning team of Race 9 will be presented with the 'Strictly Sail Pacific Clipper Cup' on the opening day of the show, 12 April.
Standings after Race 8 - Points
1 Gold Coast Australia - 83 points
2 Visit Finland - 59 points
3 De Lage Landen - 57 points
4 Singapore - 46 points
5 New York - 44 points
6 Geraldton Western Australia - 43 points
7 Derry-Londonderry - 40 points
8 Welcome to Yorkshire - 39 points
9 Qingdao - 35 points
10 Edinburgh Inspiring Capital - 17 points
Full positions are updated every three hours and can be found here.
Clipper Round the World Yacht Race website
by Isabel Hokken
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11:39 AM Sun 4 Mar 2012GMT
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