Update 1100 13 April

Following the completion of the repairs, the delay to Qingdao departing from Japan was due to the approaching typhoon and it was a decision taken after very careful consideration and with the utmost concern for the safety and welfare of the Qingdao team and yacht. Looking at the progression of the typhoon, it is clear that this has been the correct call. The typhoon will continue its passage across the North Pacific but will substantially decrease in strength to a standard low pressure system before it catches up with the rest of the fleet and nearer to the west coast of the USA.

Taking into account the current forecasts the Clipper Race expects Qingdao to be able to depart late evening on 15 April or early morning 16 April local time.

Having looked at all options it is not feasible for Qingdao to arrive in Seattle during or even just after the planned stopover. Therefore, the Clipper Race has had to look into alternative locations on the west coast of the USA where Qingdao will be able to complete Leg 6/Race 10 and join Leg 7/Race. The most suitable port for this is San Francisco.

San Francisco works as a port geographically as the Qingdao team would be able to rejoin the race around the same time as the rest of the fleet travels down the coast from Seattle. The Clipper Race has also been to the city before so we have contacts there and know the marinas that can accommodate a Clipper 70.

Any port locations further south than San Francisco would only serve to further prolong the race for departing Leg 6 crew and shorten the Leg 7 racing time.

The race distance to San Francisco is 4,550nm and is therefore very similar in duration to the route to Seattle. The route would be almost identical to the Seattle route except for the last 1,300nm (approx. 6 days). Where the route would have turned north, it will now turn south. We estimate the crossing time to be between 18 – 22 days.

The Qingdao team will be awarded 1 point for Race 10, but they are still able to compete in the Ocean Sprint for bonus points. The Ocean Sprint gates are close to the Great Circle Route, where the team will turn south for San Francisco.

Currently, the expected arrival window into San Francisco is 4 - 6 May.

A team of Clipper Race Office and Maintenance staff will be in San Francisco to receive the Qingdao team when they arrive. The team will be there to support with Customs, Immigration and Quarantine formalities for both arrival and departure, and to assist with any boat preparation or repairs.

Leg 6 only Race Crew would depart the yacht in San Francisco. Leg 7 Qingdao Crew are still very much welcome to take part in the Seattle stopover but will be joining the race in San Francisco and will complete Refresher Training before the start of Race 11.

Leg 7 / Race 11 - Elapsed time racing

The Qingdao team will very much be part of Race 11 down to Panama and the details are as follows:

The fleet of ten yachts will depart Seattle as planned, on 30 April. After the Le Mans Start of Race 11, the ten yachts will race down to a virtual gate, just south of San Francisco and complete Section 1. This section of the race is expected to take three to four days from the Le Mans Start.

Each yacht will declare their exact time and GPS position as they cross the virtual gate and take photographic evidence. The Clipper Race Office will receive all ten race times for Section 1 and will work out the average time of all yachts (from first to last) and calculate an average time. This average time across the fleet will be the time given to Qingdao for Section 1 of the race. The rest of the fleet will then continue to race towards Panama and complete Section 2 on elapsed time.

Once Qingdao is ready to depart San Francisco, the team will complete Refresher Training and then will commence racing from the same virtual gate on elapsed time. After Qingdao crosses the finish line in Panama and completes Section 2 of the race, the average time from Section 1 will be added to the team's time from Section 2, which will give an overall elapsed time.

This overall elapsed time can then be compared to the overall times for the rest of the fleet and finishing positions and points will be calculated.

Regular updates will continue via our website as Qingdao progresses.

Update 1515 11 April

Qingdao has not departed Japan this morning, as planned. The yacht and its crew were cleared to leave by the Japanese authorities but the Clipper Race had not received the final clearance from Transport Malta and therefore could not sail until final approval had been given.

Although this permission has now come through and the yacht has been cleared to sail, the Clipper Race team has also been closely monitoring a very strong Typhoon approaching Japan. In all of the Clipper Race team’s calculations, in conjunction with Clipper Race Meteorologist, Simon Rowell, it was indicated that if Qingdao had left at the planned time today, the team would have been clear eastward of the typhoon. However, the delays have meant that, what would have been manageable weather conditions, are now likely to have deteriorated swiftly.

To avoid any risk to the Qingdao crew, the Clipper Race has made the decision to hold the yacht in Yokosuka until the typhoon has passed. It is estimated this could take between three to five days, depending on how fast the weather system advances. (Please note: in terms of the rest of the fleet, the typhoon will reduce in strength before it reaches them.)

This will now mean that unfortunately, Qingdao will most likely miss the Seattle stopover, because the rest of the fleet will have had to depart from the city before the yacht could arrive.

After departing Japan later this week, Qingdao may now head to an alternative USA port, further south on the West Coast. Once the team is sailing again and we have an estimate based on the yacht’s progress, we will be able to advise the location of this port. The objective is for Qingdao to join Leg 7/Race 11 as soon as possible. Details on this will be announced as soon as the Clipper Race team is able to make a worthwhile prediction on Qingdao’s likely arrival date.

Update 1830 10 April

We are pleased to say that the repairs to Qingdao were completed on Sunday afternoon in Yokosuka, Japan, with the works currently curing overnight.

A local surveyor has inspected all repairs thoroughly, taking comprehensive photos of the work for the Clipper Race Office and Maintenance Team. The surveyor has explained the repairs to Race Skipper, Chris Brooks and the team, noting that they have been carried out to a high standard. A detailed report on the repairs has been sent to Clipper Race flag state surveyor, Transport Malta, which has in turn, confirmed it is happy that a professional repair has been completed and that the yacht is fit to depart tomorrow.

The Qingdao yacht is still planning to depart on Monday. It has been refuelled in preparation and victualling has been organised for the remainder of the race, with the final supplies due to arrive early tomorrow morning (Monday).

The ship agent that has been working closely with the team has arranged that all Customs, Quarantine and Immigration formalities be completed Monday morning. It is estimated that Qingdao will depart at 1200 local time (0400 UTC) tomorrow.

Qingdao will motorsail out to waypoint 34°50N, 140°00E (approximately 6nm off the southern coast of Japan) then resume racing from that point. This waypoint is approximately 40nm from its current position and it should take the team 5–6 hours to get there. Due to the need for the team to arrive into Seattle as safely and swiftly as possible it has been agreed with the Clipper Race Office that the team will not travel back to the point at which they ceased racing.

Once in the vicinity of the given waypoint, Chris Brooks will send an email to the Race Office, giving a GPS position and time in UTC and confirm that the engine is off and the team has resumed racing. It is estimated that Qingdao will resume racing at approximately 1800 local time (1000 UTC) on Monday 11 April.

Predicted weather conditions currently show Qingdao will have moderate southerly winds for the first few days which should keep it on a starboard tack and this favourable weather will also help the team to settle back into racing and boat life. And of course help them to get east as quickly as possible.

Although it is normal that there is no redress for the team’s diversion, the team is still in Race 10 and if it manages to catch up any of the back markers, then they would be able to gain positions and finishing points. Qingdao is also able to compete in the Ocean Sprint and gain bonus points just like any other team.

Once the team has started racing and has begun its crossing of the North Pacific, the Clipper Race should have a clearer estimate of the team’s arrival into Seattle. An update on this will be made in due course.

Update 1800 7 April 2022

A repair plan has been agreed for Qingdao and work has commenced.

The yacht will remain at City Marina Velasis while the work is completed. Repairs will be carried out day and night and over the weekend with the goal for the job to be completed by late Sunday 10 April.

Our Chief Engineer, Jay Haller and Head of Fleet Maintenance, Greg Miller are keeping in frequent contact with the specialist carrying out the repairs. We are also keeping our surveyor and yacht design engineer informed. Our appointed agent SYL Japan continues to assist us shoreside in Yokosuka.

Now that the repair works are underway, the team is working on plans to top up its victualling stocks, replenish gas and refuel the yacht.

It is planned for the yacht and crew to clear Japanese Customs, Quarantine and Immigration and depart on Monday 11 April but this will need to be confirmed. The Qingdao team will then be rejoining Race 10.

Update 1800 5 April 2022

The Qingdao team has today cleared immigration, following clearing customs yesterday and the yacht also clearing quarantine.

As the team do not have Japanese visas, they have been issued with a crew shore pass by immigration and are limited to the surrounding area of the marina, which covers the hotel they are staying in this evening. They are also under seven days of quarantine, which means they can stay on the yacht or hotel, can access the marina and its facilities and shop for essentials.

The work report on repairs is due to be finalised by tomorrow and current estimates show the work taking four to seven days to be completed but this will be confirmed.

Further updates to follow.

Update 1700 4 April 2022

The Qingdao team will be clearing immigration tomorrow (5 April), with yacht clearance, quarantine and customs cleared today.

The Clipper Race will be looking for the repairs to start as soon as possible. Our Chief Engineer, Justin (Jay) Haller has been liaising with local contractors to source the very best specialists to carry out the work, with one specialist visiting the yacht today and another one booked to visit tomorrow.

More details will follow tomorrow (5 April).

Update 0630 4 April 2022

A berth for CV30 Qingdao has been arranged at Marina Velasis in Yokosuka and the team has just safely arrived alongside.

The Clipper Race is working with a local agent to help the team in clearing the Japanese customs, immigration and quarantine requirements. As this is an unplanned stop this is expected to take some time to work through but the agent is there to make the process as smooth and as quick as possible.

A local boatbuilder was arranged to be there for the yacht’s arrival to assess any repairs required and this assessment is currently being carried out.

The Qingdao team is all well.

2 April 2022

CV30 Qingdao is currently heading towards Yokohama to effect repairs to its running backstay fitting.

All crew are well on board. There are no safety concerns but the team has ceased racing until the issue is resolved.