Having been entertained by youngsters yesterday during a school visit, today it was the turn of the ‘young at heart’ to share elements of Chinese culture with the Clipper Race crew.

During a trip to the Hong Kong Garden Community in the Shinan District of Qingdao, where the fleet is berthed, crew members and Skippers were taught about Chinese arts and crafts, calligraphy, martial arts, music and dancing. Of course, they were all also encouraged to get involved too.

The visit kicked off with Mantis-Style martial arts led by the master from the local boxing school, who has been doing the sport for 72 years. After the demonstration, the crew was then invited to have a go themselves.

Mel Thompson, a teacher on GREAT Britain for Legs 5 and 6, was one of the first to run on to the stage and said: “Oh, I love a bit of Kung Fu. Bruce Lee eat your heart out! It was great to see the little kids doing the martial arts and then the master of the school who has been doing it for over 70 years told me off for doing it wrong which was funny.

sing Chinese fans as props, dancers also taught crew members new moves in the rehearsal room, as well as helping them play traditional instruments.

On his first ever visit to China, LMAX Exchange circumnavigator Nigel Cook, says: “What I’ve enjoyed is how welcoming the people are and they are so interested in what we are doing. The arrival on the boats was something else.

“The highlight for me today was just seeing how people here live, how they work. When you are a visitor or tourist, you don’t really get to see how things are for the local communities and I really enjoyed that bit of it. All the people we met were pensioners and they are all still learning new skills, some were doing marital arts on the stage and they were very good at it as well!”

In the community centre, the crew were then given calligraphy and painting lessons by very patient and encouraging teachers.

James Shepherd, round the world watch leader on Mission Performance said: “In stopover it’s always difficult to get out and about because the priority is the boat and making sure all maintenance and repairs are done ahead of the next race. But it’s important to get to spend time exploring the places we visit too.

“It is brilliant to see people’s enthusiasm and support for the race, to see some local culture: dancing, fighting, calligraphy, art and traditional musicians playing. They gave me some paper cut outs of animals and calligraphy to take home, I had a go myself but was pretty rubbish – all lovely momentos, from really generous, lovely people.”

The crew have another few days to immerse themselves in Chinese culture with Race 9 to Seattle starting on Sunday 20 March.

To find out more about Qingdao and see the full programme of events in the stopover, click here.

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