29 August 2015

At the official naming of Qingdao, the crew were given a taste of the welcome that lies ahead for them when they arrive into the Chinese city next spring, thanks to the Chinese lion dancers who performed and the warm words of welcome from the Qingdao delegates.

The Chinese sponsored yacht was the final boat to be officially named ahead of Race Start tomorrow and Mr Bao Hongyi, Director of Science Education and Culture and Health Office of the Standing Committee of the Qingdao National People’s Congress, named the yacht. Mr Bao said: "Hosting the Clipper Race and having a Qingdao team allows us to showcase our city around the world.

“We want people to come to Qingdao, to feel welcomed and experience Chinese culture. We also want to encourage more people to take up sailing and the race provides the perfect platform for this. I wish the Qingdao Skipper Igor and his the team fair winds and good luck.”

Since 2005, Qingdao has enabled 31 driven Chinese people to achieve something remarkable and compete on board the city’s yacht entry. These include Guo Chuan, the first Chinese sailor on the Clipper Race, who has since become the first Chinese yachtsman to complete a nonstop solo circumnavigation, and Vicky Song, who became China’s first female circumnavigator at the end of the 2013-14 race.

At the ceremony, Sir Robin said:“Given our longstanding relationship with Qingdao, I have had the pleasure of visiting the Chinese sailing capital many times. For the Qingdao crew, you are in for the warmest of welcomes. It will blow your mind. You won’t have seen anything like it before: very friendly, very welcoming and when you are there in your red jackets, people want to talk to you because this is the people’s race.”

The Qingdao team will be led by Race Skipper Igor Gotlibovych, 28, and he took the opportunity to thank the Qingdao representatives for their long standing support of the race: “I am certainly very proud to be representing Qingdao given the focus on sailing the city has demonstrated for years through its partnership with the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race.

"I know with Qingdao we have a very strong partner who will give us a warm welcome. Knowing that lies ahead for us will make us race that little bit faster, just wanting to get to Qingdao, to experience the city, meet the people and make lots of new friends.”

Also present at the ceremony were some of 16 ambassadors from the city who went through a rigorous selection process to be awarded the opportunity to compete in the race. This is the largest contingent of Chinese crew to participate in a single edition of the race and the Clipper 2015-16 Race marks the sixth time Qingdao has entered, making it the longest ever consecutive team partnership in the event’s history.

Mr Bao was joined by three other representatives from the Qingdao delegation: Mr Zhang Min, Deputy Director of Qingdao Administration Centre of Sailing Sport; Mr Liu Hongshan, Deputy Director of Qingdao Administration Centre of Football; and Mr Li Jiqiang, interpreter/translator from Qingdao Centre for International Trade and Economic Development.

The twelve strong race fleet of Clipper 70 yachts will arrive to a spectacular welcome in Qingdao at the end of the Asia Pacific Leg from Australia in March 2016.

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