The Sailing City • Qingdao Cup started today in blustery conditions off Da Nang beach,

Following a well attended departure ceremony, teams made their way to the coastal startlne. Visit Seattle was the first team over the line though was quickly overtaken. By the first mark LMAX Exchange was in the lead, followed by GREAT Britain, Mission Performance and Derry~Londonderry~Doire, and this order remained throughout the three mark round-the can start before the fleet headed north-east to China.

The Sailing City • Qingdao Cup has the potential to be the most challenging of the 14-race global series so far as the teams face a long beat into the wind. Clipper Race Founder and Chairman Sir Robin Knox-Johnston explains: “This is going to be a bash. You go up north of here and level with Taiwan and you’ll be getting waves without anything behind them so the boat slams down.

“That’s when you get winds and tides working against each other, but the winds tend to come from the north, right across northern Russia and Mongolia so they are very, very cold. There will be sleet and snow, crew really do need all the warm clothing they can find.”

Race 8 from Da Nang, Vietnam to Qingdao, China is approximately 1700nM, but given the weather, tide and sea state conditions that lie in wait, the teams could end up recording a much higher mileage as they tack their way upwind and zig-zag against head winds and challenging currents.

The race fleet is due to arrive in Qingdao between 10-13 March.

In the overall race leaderboard, LMAX Exchange leads second place GREAT Britain by six points. Northern Irish entry Derry~Londonderry~Doire is third and Garmin is fourth.

The Clipper 2015-16 Race left London on 30 August 2015 and will finish back in the British capital on 30 July this year after eleven months racing between six continents. The twelve teams of competently trained amateur sailors compete in identical boats under the command of experienced professional skippers. It is the only race of its type in the world.

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Click hereto see the gallery of Race 8 start images.

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