Race 9 - Day 1
Crew Diary - Race 9 Day 1: Qingdao to Seattle
24 March

Andy Farnum
Andy Farnum
Team Visit Seattle
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As a leg six joiner, I have followed this race around the world with special interest. And now, my race is on! Our marathon to the Emerald City has begun, and I've just come down the companionway and pulled off my foulies following the official Le Mans start. Will handed me a bowl of porridge, and I've taken a few minutes from my rest time to dash off this update.

For me, ours is a leg homeward. My race's true beginning was two years ago - when I first saw the Clipper Race fleet's arrival into my home city of Seattle. I walked down to the beautiful marina just below Pike Place Market, I explored the Derry-Londonderry-Derre yacht, I met Sir Robin, and I applied on the spot.

Since completing four intensive weeks of training in the United Kingdom this summer, I honored my promise to Nikki that I would rejoin her and our crew in Qingdao with all of the enthusiasm, focus, and preparation that my crewmates know I'm capable of. I shared in your concern as I read accounts of harrowing weather and spinnakers rampant, I was charmed by the personalities behind these updates from faraway seas, and my pride in Visit Seattle swelled knowing that our team's character has been seasoned by honors and scars earned together over thousands of miles.

If the extraordinary media presence at Wanda Yacht Club was any indication, you will have seen a glimpse of the scale and spectacle of our sendoff into the Yellow Sea. Drums and fireworks! Dignitaries, schoolchildren, race officials and sponsors alike - clamouring for handshakes and selfies, wishing us safety and fortune as we slipped our lines.

Before heading to sea we offered our final thanks to the people of Qingdao in the form of a parade of sail. Our departure blended joy and solemnity as we look ahead to unknown excitements, and carry with us the memories of those whose graves we must cross.

This morning's race start was everything I had imagined. I was at watch on our cold bow at four this morning, opening a bunk for Bex to find well-earned rest after a frozen night. I greeted the red sun as it came to focus above the horizon. I took our helm aside Marek and Eric as the fleet converged into what would become a Le Mans line, and was awarded an exciting and physical position for the moment of our start. Everyone on board had a look of clarity and calm. At that start call, I launched carefully up the deck with Jerome to hoist our yankee sail as fast as our strength allowed. I have never seen a sail go up as quickly or smoothly. It was a moment that flew by, and a moment that I will remember for a long time.

It is impossible to predict how this race will unfold, and how our spirits and bodies will fare, but I am certain that I gave this start everything I could. We all did, and in typical Visit Seattle fashion we are sailing in style.

Love and Out. Andy