First win for Our Isles and Oceans on race into Qingdao

22 March 2024

The Our Isles and Oceans team has achieved its best result of the circumnavigation, proudly sailing into Qingdao in first place after a gruelling race from Zhuhai.

The team, led by Skipper Max Rivers and First Mate Tom Newsom, had a fantastic race, despite the extremely challenging upwind conditions for the majority of Race 9: Sailing City – Qingdao Cup. Following a difficult start, the team was able to establish a leading position once the fleet had rounded Taiwan. After opting to use Stealth Mode, the team appeared back on the Race Viewer 24 hours later in first place, keeping the lead over the chasing boats Zhuhai, UNICEF and Qingdao until the Finish Line.

Image: Our Isles and Oceans arrives in Qingdao

On crossing the Finish Line, Skipper Max Rivers said: “What a way to arrive in to such a prestigious Host Port and long-time sponsor of the race. The team has been fighting long and hard to get here and they thoroughly deserve this win. It has been great watching the boat pull together and push in the same direction to a common goal, and to achieve that after all this time is amazing. Emotions are high on board and the whole team can't wait to get in and enjoy the delights and hospitality of Qingdao.”

Image: Max Rivers

Anthony Stoddart, the Our Isles and Oceans Team Partner, congratulated the team on their amazing result: “What a truly fantastic result for Max, Tom, the team and Wee Dram. We couldn’t be more delighted for them to be standing on the top step after all their hard work over so many Legs. Just rewards to say the least, and after the usual ‘nip & tuck’ that is synonymous with the Clipper Race, made the race even more nerve wracking with the dreaded Stealth Mode hiding what is going on. Congratulations and make sure a ‘Wee Dram’ is had to celebrate!”

The team arrived in Qingdao, China’s sailing city to an unbelievable welcome. Sailing in past the skyline and Olympic rings, the team was greeted by fireworks, crowds of fans and media, before an official Arrival Ceremony.

Image: Arrival beers!

Max added: “I’m ecstatic, it’s an amazing place and an amazing welcome! It’s been a really brilliant race for the team, and we’ve been working towards this for a while now, so we are happy it has come to pass. It’s a dream come true to win a race, and to win into such an amazing port is a real privilege.

“As always, the rest of the teams put up the best fight possible right until the very end. I really enjoyed having a good battle with UNICEF to the Finish Line.”

Elizabeth Balmer, the Leg 6 Our Isles and Oceans Ambassador said on arrival: “It was a tough start, really upwind. But then it was amazing, just being on the boat. To go into second place, and then into first, it’s just been amazing. Max let me helm across the Finish Line for the last two minutes, which was such an honour after a full team effort. It was a life changing moment.”

Image: Elizabeth Balmer

The team was paraded to the stage with dragon dancers and Chinese drummers and joined Qingdao Organising Committee and Clipper Race officials on the stage to celebrate the win.

Image: Arrival Ceremony

Speaking about the welcome on stage, Skipper Max Rivers said: “I’ve heard a lot about Qingdao from previous editions of the Clipper Race. It’s a legendary stopover and a fantastic Host Port which we have been excited about visiting since the start of the race. It’s amazing to able to experience China’s Sailing City for ourselves.”

Following the gifting of a cloak and hat to Skipper Max Rivers, the crew received beanies and scarves and then enjoyed their first, first place champagne spray of the Clipper 2023-24 Race.