The Clipper Race bid an emotional farewell to Da Nang this morning following its ten day stopover in the coastal Vietnamese Host Port.

During the on-stage departure ceremony, Clipper Race Chairman Sir Robin Knox-Johnston congratulated the city for creating a wonderful stopover experience and for having the vision to host the fleet and participate in the race. He added: “We don’t see today’s departure as an end but, potentially, just the beginning of a longer-term relationship between the Clipper Race, Da Nang and Vietnam.”

The Da Nang People’s Committee Vice Chairman, Mr Dang Viet Dung, remarked: “After ten days staying in Da Nang City, crewmembers had the opportunity to visit beautiful destinations in Da Nang and surrounding places, enjoyed traditional foods, meet local people and took part in many cultural and sport activities.

“During these days, thousands of people in the city, as well as domestic and international visitors, had the opportunity to witness the colourful and lively Clipper Race fleet on Han River, meet the crews and understand more about this tough ocean race. The crew's activities here have created a wonderful impression and a festive and colourful atmosphere in the city.

To the crew, he added: “Today, you are ready for the next race to Qingdao and lots of challenges await. We wish you all safe passage in your journey and we believe that with your bravery and professionalism, you will complete the race safely."

Ahead of each team taking to the stage, where they were presented with a trophy and a large team picture, Da Nang-Viet Nam Skipper Wendy Tuck spoke to the city officials and the attending crowds on behalf of all the Skippers and crew.

She remarked: “Thank you to all the people of Da Nang who have visited the port and welcomed the Skippers and crew so warmly to the city, wherever they have seen us, and especially to those who lined the Han River in their thousands to see the whole fleet parade on Thursday night to the Dragon Bridge. It made us all feel very special. It has been an incredible stopover and one of the friendliest we have ever been to so thanks to all from the bottom of our hearts.”

Wendy, who celebrates her birthday on 1 March, was also given a surprise bouquet of flowers and a gift from the city as it declared today ‘Wendy Tuck Day’ in Da Nang, much to her team’s amusement.

After enjoying their moments on stage, each team took to its boat and swiftly slipped lines in front of local spectators who had lined the barriers and waited patiently to wave them off one last time.

Whilst the crew bid a fond farewell to their friendly hosts, there was a big buzz felt amongst the Qingdao team, whose turn it is now to race ‘home’.

Crew member Steve Smith, who raced into Qingdao previously with OneDLL during the 2013-14 race, said: “I’m looking forward to going back to Qingdao. Coming into Da Nang was fantastic but coming into Qingdao is on a different scale entirely. It is just such a huge welcome and the people there are fantastic. Even just walking to your hotel you get stopped. As soon as people see your Clipper Race kit they want to talk to you and take pictures. It is really warm and welcoming.

“I don’t think the guys on the team quite know what is ahead. I’m glad I am on the Qingdao boat and I’m looking forward to the welcome, it was a big reason why I chose to do this leg.

On the challenging race ahead, Steve commented from experience: “I think I still have the bruises from the 2013-14 race. It is very bumpy and it is uphill, that is the only way to describe it. But it is a shorter race. It is a case of getting your head down and working hard and it will be tacking all the way.”

LMAX Exchange was the last team to leave the Han River port, its departure delayed slightly due to final repairs on the rudder. All teams are now making best speed out of the Han River and around the Son Tra Peninsula to the race start line which is positioned opposite the Vin Pearl Resort on Da Nang Beach.

Race 8: The Sailing City • Qingdao Cup will start at 1615 local (0915 UTC), and is expected to arrive in Qingdao, China from 10 - 13 March. Images and information about the start of the race will follow later today.

Click here to watch the live periscope of the team’s on-stage departures.

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