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The first teams have started to arrive in Qingdao, China, following one of the most challenging legs of the 2013-14 edition of the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race: GREAT Britain, Mission Performance and Derry~Londonderry~Doire arrived at the Olympic Sailing Center this morning, local time.

“We had a really good race, but it was a very tough race. We have all our fingers crossed that we have done really well with our elapsed time,” said GREAT Britain skipper Simon Talbot. “As a team we are really pleased especially when you consider how tricky this race has been.”

Click here to view the official photography from the Clipper Race fleet's arrival in Qingdao, China.  

Race 9.1 is being run on an elapsed time basis following staggered start times out of Hong Kong, so the finishing order will not necessarily reflect the fastest times, which will be the basis for awarding points.

So far GREAT Britain has the shortest elapsed time of the first three arrivals at 7 days 00 hours 35 minutes 41 seconds , but both Derry~Londonderry~Doire and Mission Performance are proud of their teams who achieved elapsed times of 7 days 7 hours 57 minutes 59 seconds and 7 days 13 hours 14 minutes 0 seconds respectively.

All these times could still remain competitive given the changing weather currently being experienced across the fleet.  Mission Performance Skipper Matt Mitchell said the strong finish had given his crew a real morale booster: “Everyone feels fantastic, we do have a very small team but everyone gave 110 percent, and I couldn’t have asked more of them.

“There were times when I was asking them to change the sails and they really didn’t want to. In all fairness to the team it didn’t take too much persuasion. We really feel that we have performed the best we possibly could for what was a very tough race.”

Derry~Londonderry~Doire was also in high spirits as they joined the other boats in bright sunshine to be greeted by massed bands of drummers, dancers, throngs of well wishers, media and local VIPs. 

Skipper Sean McCarter said, “To arrive here today in Qingdao China is a massive relief. To finish Race 9.1 one of the toughest races in the entire Clipper Round the World Yacht Race, to finish it in one piece with the crew in good form is just a massive relief.”

“We were lucky to dodge the worst of the weather, but it definitely wasn’t easy. We faced some very tough conditions in the Taiwan Strait, and we were racing very closely with GREAT Britain and Mission Performance. ”

The rest of the fleet has been struggling in lighter airs or strong head winds, although the forecast suggests winds will shift to provide a downwind finish for some.

For the latest ETAs into Qingdao view here

The Race Viewer leader board by Yellow Brick will have provisional finish and elapsed times posted as they are reported. Click here

However, the official results and relative points for each team will not be confirmed until Thursday.