Derry~Londonderry~ Doire wins The Sailing City • Qingdao Cup

10 March 2016

Derry~Londonderry~Doire has recorded an impressive back to back, clean sweep win in the Clipper 2015-16 Race after taking line honours in The Sailing City • Qingdao Cup following twelve days of racing from Vietnam to China. Once again, as with Race 7, the Northern Irish entry has been closely followed by Garmin in second place and LMAX Exchange in third place at 1600 UTC.

After eight races this is only the second time a team has recorded a consecutive victory in this tenth edition Clipper Race. Skipper Daniel Smith and his team took a maximum 17 points for being first across the line at 1425 local time (0625 UTC), first through the Scoring Gate and for recording the fastest time in the Ocean Sprint. The points haul means that Derry~Londonderry~Doire will also move up to second place in the Overall Race Standings, overtaking GREAT Britain but still trailing leader LMAX Exchange. Garmin also managed to collect two bonus points at the Scoring Gate so finishes Race 8 with a total of 13 points.

The Sailing City • Qingdao Cup promised to be a rough ride in tough upwind conditions and the final days in particular the Yellow Sea lived up to the billing, as the fleet was hit by a stronger than forecasted storm which brought violent wind gusts of 80 knots.

Summing up the race in his daily blog just ahead of crossing the finish line, Skipper Daniel reports: “The wind eased into the night and the Yankee 1 was hoisted after a short sleep keeping myself fresh for the finish. The on-watch were putting reefs in and it soon became so windy the Yankee 3 had to go back up. Later the reverse happened and the crew re-hoisted the old sail. This happened again twice through the night pushing a tired crew to the limit.

“Throughout this race the crew has done a fantastic job, pushing themselves and the boat to its limit and rarely complaining despite horrendous weather. They really deserve a good result and the points they have earned at the Scoring Gate and the Ocean Sprint. They have now proved they can sail upwind (which we struggled with) as well as downwind and that they can keep pushing when the going gets tough,” he continued.

Garmin has been pushing us hard and several times has been gaining on us and eating away the mileage. This has been a tough race.”

Garmin crossed the finish line almost one hour later at 0717 UTC. Skipper Ash also talked about the competition between his team and Derry~Londonderry~Doire with less than five nautical miles between them as they approached the end of the 1700nM race.

“It has been a really tight contest with them, ever since we ran out of luck and hit a wind hole towards the end of the Ocean Sprint. They have definitely had the better of us in the light airs that we have experienced a lot of recently. Congratulations to Skipper Dan and his team for another excellent win.”

Ash goes on to describe how testing the conditions have been: “This race has been challenging in pretty much every way I can think of. It has had everything from thick fog, traffic and fishing fleets, many miles of beating to windward, slamming, severe storms and even flotsam slowing us down! Throw in the close racing and a podium finish and it all makes for a race that none of us are going to forget in a hurry.

“So, after an eventful race, it's great to be across the line in Qingdao and we are all looking forward to a spectacular welcome that we are told to expect when we cruise in there tomorrow morning.”

An almighty welcome awaits all the teams in Qingdao, the Clipper Race’s longest standing Team Sponsor and Host Port, where the organisers pull out all the stops and the media flocks to greet the crew.

After crossing the finish line Andy Kerrison, sailing round the world on Garmin said: "That was one of the toughest races due to the adverse weather conditions and the bitter cold. I'm pleased for Derry~Londonderry~Doire and their first place, but I'm gutted because we were in a leading position for so much of the race."

Fellow Garmin circumnavigator Rich Perkin added: "This race was definitely one of contrasts. One of the shorter races in terms of distance and time, it definitely packed in differences in conditions, from a couple of fairly balmy days in the middle, to some of the worst conditions we've seen so far a few days later. We went through all our sails except for our storm sails, and we could probably have done with using them at one point.

"We've all learned to trust Ash and his tactical decisions, even when it seems to put us towards the back of the fleet. He spends hours studying the weather forecasts, current and tide charts, and time and time again he's been proven right as the wind has done what he's expected and we've found ourselves in great positions by the end of the race."

Rich added: "This was a tough one all round, again to have a decent lead only to lose it when we run into light wind patches. As a boat we'd almost the heavier winds as we seem to perform much better in them! We're definitely all glad that this race is over, and can't wait to get in to Qingdao."

At 0900 local time (0100 UTC) on Friday 11 March Derry~Londonderry~Doire will arrive into Qingdao, followed by Garmin at 1000 local time. The yachts will pass the Olympic Rings en route into the city, which hosted the sailing events in the Beijing Games 2008, where a fanfare of fireworks and Chinese traditional drummers will be on the pontoon to mark their arrival. The Welcome Ceremonies will follow at hourly intervals for all the teams that have crossed the line and motored into Qingdao.

For the latest ETAs into Qingdao click here.

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