The ten internationally-backed yachts of the Clipper 07-08 Round the World Yacht Race fleet arrived in Singapore at midday (local time, 0400 GMT) 19th January in a perfectly-choreographed entrance to Marina at Keppel Bay, the new S$30 million yacht haven owned by Uniquely Singapore sponsor, Keppel Corporation Limited.
The fleet’s arrival formed part of the colourful opening ceremony during which 40 ‘sirens’ along the length of the Keppel Bay Bridge waved the flags of the competing nations, water canons fired jets into the air and Singapore’s Senior Minister, Goh Chok Tong, hoisted a sail on the bridge to officially open the marina.
The crews left Nongsa Bay in Batam early to cross the Singapore Straits, the marine equivalent of a six-lane motorway, where 600 cargo ships pass through every day. Before arriving at Marina at Keppel Bay they sailed in formation past Singapore’s distinctive skyline with its skyscrapers and “Singapore Eye” big wheel.
Chairman and founder of the Clipper Race, legendary solo sailor Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, was on the pontoon to welcome the crews to Singapore, along with the Senior Minister and Mr Lim Chee Onn, Chairman of Keppel Corporation.
Sir Robin said, “We are delighted to bring the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race back to Singapore and to the magnificent facilities here at the new Marina at Keppel Bay. Keppel Corporation, together with their race partner, Singapore Tourism Board, has proven that not only can they stage a wonderful spectacle here in Singapore but has also shown how the Uniquely Singapore yacht can promote the city all over the world.
“Uniquely Singapore encapsulates the essence of the Clipper Race with people from many nations and backgrounds coming together to work as a successful team. With ten nationalities onboard for the latest race from Fremantle to Singapore, this team has proven that diversity can help to bond a group together rather than divide it.
“Mark and his crew have shown that sound training, good humour and a strong team ethic are the most important things for a successful campaign in ocean racing. Everyone onboard is developing their skills and as a result broadening their horizons.”
Uniquely Singapore’s crew includes a group of young people drawn from countries in the Association of South East Asian Nations. They have been sponsored by Singapore’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs to mark Singapore’s chairmanship of ASEAN as it celebrates its 40th anniversary.
Mr Lim Chee Onn, Keppel Corporation’s Executive Chairman, said, “Keppel Bay is envisioned to be a place where people, boaters and non-boaters can come to enjoy the best of what Singapore’s premium waterfront has to offer, be it to live, work or play.
“We share the same vision with our race partner, Singapore Tourism Board to showcase the Uniquely Singapore brand to the world and to promote Singapore globally as a ‘must visit’ destination.”
Uniquely Singapore skipper, Mark Preedy, was presented with a cake to mark his 37th birthday today. He said, “We didn’t know what to expect and then to come round the corner and see everyone was fantastic. It’s a stunning building and the girls on the bridge with the flags were great. The crew were a bit stunned at first and then realised it was all for them. They were really excited and it was the first time they’d seen their families since they’d been away so there was a bit of emotion running.”
Sir Robin continued, “This is a special day for all the crew onboard Uniquely Singapore as they finally sail into their home port. It is not a day any of them will forget. We hope the people of Singapore take the opportunity to come down to look around this superb new complex where the ten Clipper 68s will be berthed over the coming days.”
Duggie Gillespie and the crew of New York were presented with the Uniquely Singapore Trophy as winners of the race from Fremantle to Singapore, the fifth of the 14 races that comprise Clipper 07-08.