Qingdao Clipper 2015-16 Race Highlights

17 August 2016

From a home port arrival ceremony in which they were treated like superstars, to claiming two podium places and finishing with Qingdao’s highest ever position in the city’s six race history, the crew of Qingdao take away many highlights from the Clipper 2015-16 Race.

The team’s campaign got off to a strong start in the race from London to Rio de Janeiro with some daring tactics paying off as they came from 125 nautical miles behind GREAT Britain and Derry~Londonderry~Doire at the Scoring Gate to claim second place in Brazil behind LMAX Exchange.

The crew arrived into Rio just in time to mark the Mooncake Festival that was being celebrated in China during late September 2015, albeit the closest to mooncake they had was pizza. At the time Leg 1 crew member Peter Soddy from Oxford, UK, said: “What a journey we’ve been on. 27 days at sea and we experienced pretty much everything, from strong winds to no winds, high sea states, and big surfs with lots of heeling. It’s been fantastic. I would definitely do it all over again.”

It was only two races later that Qingdao was back on the podium after a powerful Southern Ocean crossing under the direction of Skipper Bob Beggs who replaced Igor Gotlibovych in Cape Town. As a previous winner of the Times Clipper Race back in 2000, Bob ensured that the competitive edge instilled before the team set off from London remained.

Celebrating the team’s success in Albany, Bob commented: “It was a baptism of fire for me, but the crew performed exceptionally. The Southern Ocean has a fearsome reputation and did not disappoint. Right from the start we had rough seas and high winds. Then, as we descended into the Roaring Forties, we tackled a combination of strong storm fronts and periods of lighter wind in high pressure.

“I have to pay tribute to the excellent teamwork aboard Qingdao; the crew worked very hard in difficult weather conditions. At times the wind was gusting at near hurricane force. It was a courageous performance in very difficult conditions,” he added.

Throughout the circumnavigation, 18 Chinese ambassadors were awarded their place by the Qingdao Committee and formed part of the crew in order to help educate people on their city and also garner skills and information on other cultures which they could take home.

Having joined the team in New York in June, Qingdao crew member Wei Liu, 52, who raced across the Atlantic from the USA to Europe said: “As a member of the Qingdao Committee, it is a real privilege for me to finally join the Qingdao crew because I have worked on the Clipper Race partnership with the city for over ten years now. It has been a very exciting experience and it has made me want to do more legs on the Clipper Race or even sail around the world.

“I think the Qingdao crew is a good team, everyone has worked very hard. I tried my best to contribute and every morning on board I made a Chinese style breakfast for the crew which they really enjoyed. It has been very been a very good experience to share our culture with crew members from all over the world and also for me to learn about where they come from too.”

For the crew from the five other nations that made up the Qingdao team, the cultural exchange provided a unique bonding experience with their Team Sponsor.

Circumnavigator Andrew Jagoe-Salter, a farmer from the UK explained: “I think it is special to have the ambassadors on board as there is a real cultural exchange. They introduce their food to us, which we really enjoy. We’ve eaten loads and loads of dumplings, and we celebrated Chinese New Year which was great. Kevin, our media guy on board from Beijing TV, keeps everything going for us. When times are tough he is always there with a smile and I think with the change of crew on every leg is good.

“You get to meet a lot of different Chinese people and everyone has been really special in their own way. They are all really different. Also they are really proud to represent Qingdao, and they want to win and be competitive. They all race really hard so they bring a great spirit.”.

Another distinctive element to life aboard Qingdao was the team’s three watch system. The decision was taken to divide the crew into Tiger, Dragon and Phoenix watches so crew could get as much rest as possible which in turn would give them the energy to race as hard as they could.

Picking up points at the Scoring Gates kept Qingdao in touch with the leading boats, especially in the first few legs, with three points in Race 2 to Cape Town, and one point apiece in Races 3, to Albany, and 7 to Airlie Beach, the Whitsundays.

Ultimately those bonus points helped Qingdao safeguard the team’s highest ever race finish as the fight for fifth place came down to the wire with the four teams tied on 72 points before commencing the final stage, Race 14 from Den Helder.

Crossing the line in sixth place off Southend was enough for Bob and his crew to hold off their nearest rivals and Qingdao finished one point ahead of sixth placed Mission Performance.

So congratulations Bob and the Qingdao crew and thanks for all you shared with us along the way, for sticking at it when times were tough and for representing China’s sailing city with a smile in your round the world adventure.

Give yourselves a pat on the back for a hard fought race and impressive fifth place finish Stephen Batchelor, Caroline Bowen, Jane Butterworth, Huanyu Cai, Ningyun Cai, Jie Chen, Shenxi Chi, Lindsay Rozelle Crawford, Linda Crocker, Mark Dagge, Fabrizio D'Aloia, Sophie Dummer, Joseph Durbin, Wenshuo Fan, Adam Fung, James Gannon, Sarah Gilbert, Daniel Halenko, Helen Hancorn, Carl Hancorn, Jane Harvey, Michael Hughes, Andrew Jagoe-Salter, Jean James, Jeremy Jones, Shuoshuo Ju, Vitaly Kmelnitsky, Michael Lentrodt, Wei Liu, Qingjun Liu, Mingyue Liu, Andrew Lynch, Yingcheng Ma, Sirah-Athena Pallas, Ping Pan, Craig Parsons, Victoria Pearson, Mathew Ratliff, Linda Rayner, William Robinson, Stephen Smith, Peter Soddy, Anna Southall, Xiangsheng Wang, Julian Ware, Andrew Winter, Fan Xiao, Kejiang Xin, Mengmeng Xu, Christopher Yardley, XU Jing, Xue Zeng, Yi Zhou, Jiangbei Zhu and Renfeng Zou.

To read more about the Qingdao crew’s experience in the Clipper 2015-16 Race click here to read the crew diaries sent back while they were racing.

If you are interested in finding out more about how you could become a Clipper Race crew member in the 2017-18 or 2019-20 editions click here.

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