Upon completion of the Da Nang New Discovery of Asia Race, our intrepid crew will be half way through their fourteen race global adventure. The crew signed up for a challenge and that’s exactly what they’ve got, from surfing down waves the size of houses to enduring powerful squalls bringing up to 50 knot winds.

Throughout the journey, crew mates and supporters back home have been nominating individual teams for the Stormhoek Social Spirit Award, presented at the end of each race. New for the Clipper 2015-16 Race, this award was introduced by the Official Wine Partner of the race, Stormhoek Wines, to celebrate the team spirit on board and allow the all-important support networks ashore to directly contribute to the experience.

Today the nomination window opens for the Race 7 Stormhoek Social Spirit Award, so log on to Stormhoek’s facebook page and let them know which team you think deserves their moment on the podium and a pennant to decorate their boat. Before that though, hear from the Skippers and crew of the teams that have won the award so far on what it meant to them to have their hard work recognised.

At the end of Race 1 to Rio de Janeiro, IchorCoal became the first team to win the Stormhoek Social Spirit Award as Clipper Race supporters of all teams united to get behind Skipper Darren Ladd and his crew following the tragic loss of their crew mate Andy Ashman en route to Brazil.

Speaking on behalf of her team, Sophie Crocker says: "Winning the Stormhoek Social Spirit Award, and being the first to do so, showed us how much support was behind us. Even though we are right in the middle of an ocean there are still people at home thinking of us. It’s amazing to think that so many people are following our story."

After the South Atlantic crossing to Cape Town, it was Garmin that captured Stormhoek’s attention with the team’s project with primary schools back in the UK. Having led for most of the race, Garmin lost a couple of places after falling into a wind shadow in Table Bay, as round the world crew member Rich Perkin explains: "We already knew that we'd taken third and would be getting a pennant for our troubles. It was bittersweet as we'd led the Stormhoek Race to the Cape of Storms for about eighty percent of the race only to lose our position with an unlucky windshift at the end, but then to be awarded the Stormhoek Social Spirit Award was a completely unexpected privilege.

“It let us know that for all the work we're doing out here on the boats, there are people at home working just as hard to support us in our endeavour, be they friends, family, loved ones, past or future crew, or in some cases people we've never met who have been caught up in the team spirit that Garmin as a boat tries to bring to every race.”

Garmin Skipper Ash Skett added: “Receiving the Stormhoek Social Spirit Award was a special moment for us as the Clipper Race is much more than just a race, it also brings people together and that has been a big part of our campaign. The support back home for our team is amazing and this award is dedicated to them. We hope to bring at least one more orange pennant home!”

As the fleet made its way across the Southern Ocean, the Visit Seattle supporters listed numerous reasons as to why their team was deserving of the award. For Skipper Huw Fernie and his crew it was a just reward for all the hard work they’d put in over the first three legs.

“The Stormhoek Social Spirit Award for us on Visit Seattle was a real boost to the team, more so as it came after our tough Southern Ocean race to Albany. Knowing that people at home are getting to follow and share in our troubles and successes does remind us that what we are doing out here is exceptional. And simply putting our daily life into a blog does help to keep everything in perspective.

“At some point everyone on the team has felt inspired to come and have a go at something amazing, and now through our friends, families and the larger Clipper Race audience, we are passing that inspiration on to others. The Social Spirit Award acknowledges how important that is and that's why we take such pride in flying our winner’s pennant at each stopover.”

Of the two out of three races that made up the All-Australian Leg 4, Da Nang – Viet Nam won twice into Sydney and again into Hobart. The celebrations were tripled when the team also won the Clipper division of the Sydney – Hobart Race too. Lara Sword, sailing round the world on Da Nang – Viet Nam says: “We have such wonderful supporters, whichever port we head to we are welcomed by orange shirts and huge cheers. They get behind us in every circumstance and that continues while we are out at sea.

“The Stormhoek Social Spirit Award is incredibly important to us and constantly reminds us how amazing our followers are. Winning keeps our spirits high and each win we get here helps us on the race of our life! We all get such a huge buzz winning this one, not just because of the wine, but because our supporters continue to show force and we're obviously making them proud!”

In the Henri Lloyd Hobart to Whitsundays Race, it was Mission Performance’s act of outstanding seamanship that inspired Clipper Race followers to nominate them, regardless of the team they are supporting. Skipper Greg Miller explains: “Winning the Stormhoek Social Spirit award means a great deal to the Mission Performance Warriors for a number of reasons.

“Firstly, we went to help another yacht in trouble. I know it was the right decision and I am sure that if any other of the Clipper Race fleet had taken the call they would have dropped everything to assist M3 in need of assistance. A seafarer will never seek approval or reward for offering help to another vessel in need of it. So it was very humbling to know that so many supporters of not just the Mission Performance campaign but also other team supporters, friends and families voted for us to get the Stormhoek Social Spirit Award.

“Secondly, the whole team going up onto the stage to collect the award was an amazing experience. I believe that that experience has brought the team together and pushed us to work harder, to get along better on board in order to put the final touches to what we believe can be a winning team in future races. We will make it to the podium, I have no doubt about that!”

Nominations are now open for the Race 7 Stormhoek Social Spirit Award and the window remains open until the first team arrives into Da Nang, on 17 February.

Make a difference. Let your team know that you’re supporting them from afar by logging on to Stormhoek’s facebook page. Teell them which team you are voting for and why and it might be your loved one taking to the stage next.

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