After a demanding ten-day race through the bustling shipping channels and fishing fleets of the China Sea, and covering over 1,350 nautical miles, all eleven teams have triumphantly reached Qingdao, welcomed with the city's renowned hospitality.

Securing an impressive second place, marking its highest podium achievement on this circumnavigation so far, UNICEF completed the race in 09 days, 10 hours, 25 minutes, and 09 seconds.

On arrival into port, UNICEF Skipper Dan Bodey said: “It's our first second place and third podium on this edition overall, so we are super happy. It means we have had a podium on a third of the races we have done so far, it’s fantastic.

“Morale is really high. We got through the Scoring Gate first, unfortunately our tactics didn’t quite pay off after that, and Our Isles and Oceans managed to get in front of us, so hats off to them, and a very well deserved first place.

“It was a very tough race. It was upwind for the first four days out of the South China Sea, and that made it very challenging with seasickness, and just uncomfortable, with lots of tacking to try and keep on the right wind shifts. But we did really, really well out there, and the crew pulled together really well.”

Andy Todd, Director of Partnerships at UNICEF UK said: "Congratulations to the UNICEF team for their remarkable achievement of securing the 2nd place in Qingdao! It was a great team effort, leading up to an incredible end of Race 9. Your unwavering dedication and collaboration were incredible to follow. Thank you for all you have done to raise vital funds that will go towards improving the lives of children across the world. Here’s to the Mighty Pacific crossing ahead!"

Image: UNICEF celebrating on stage as the team arrive into Qingdao in second place

Just 39 minutes behind, completing the race in 09 days, 11 hours, 04 minutes, and 54 seconds Qingdao, the home team, clinched a triumphant third place after an epic race of highs and lows. Skipper Phillip Quinn and AQP Henry Hallett, who took command of Qingdao at the beginning of Race 6, celebrate their second podium finish together.

On arrival into port, Skipper Phillip Quinn said: “At one point it was a desperate fight to make our way back to the front of the pack, but we did it and I am really pleased for the crew. It's something special coming into your home port. This race means a lot to them, we are representing the city, and that's a proud moment, and everyone can feel the excitement.”

Image: Qingdao arriving home

Following closely behind, and action-packed arrivals saw the rest of the fleet swiftly fill the fourth to eleventh positions:

Fourth place was secured by Zhuhai, completing the race in 9 days, 12 hours, 47 minutes, and 22 seconds. Skipper James Finney shared his thoughts as the team docked on the pontoon: “We always knew it was going to be a hard race. We had headwinds the whole way, sometimes only making two or three miles per hours in the right direction, which is pretty tough to take to be honest.

“We managed to be in the top three most of the way, then we made a decision to go a bit wider, hoping the front boats would get stuck in a windhole, but they didn’t! So, we ended up sailing a bit further than them which took us, but fourth place is a fantastic result, super proud of the crew battling it out like that and it's good to be in the mix.”

Image: Centre stage for Zhuhai

Claiming fifth place was Ha Long Bay, Viet Nam, with a total race time of 09 days, 13 hours, 22 minutes, and 49 seconds. It was a solid performance from the team who kept hot on the heels of Zhuhai in the closing 24 hours of racing.

As the team crossed the Finish Line, Skipper Bob Beggs, who is currently standing in for Josh Stickland on Leg 6, expressed his admiration for the team: “What a fantastic reintroduction to Clipper racing! Josh has clearly put together an impressive team who have been a pleasure to sail with.

As the team arrived into port to the sound of the signature firework welcome, Bob added: “Qingdao is like my adopted home, it's great to be here. This is my fourth time into Qingdao. I always get a great welcome here. It was a tough race, warm and leaning over a lot at the beginning and cold and fast at the end. Fantastic team, everyone got stuck in, it's real a pleasure.”

Image: Champagne spray for Ha Long Bay!

Perseverance seized sixth place, completing the race in 09 days, 14 hours, 17 minutes, and 04 seconds – less than 60 minutes behind nearest competitor Ha Long Bay, Viet Nam.

Skipper Ineke Van der Weijden shared her reflections on a tough race for the team: “What a race! We had some setbacks, including a kite wrap just before the finish, but the team handled it all brilliantly.

“It wasn’t a long race, but it had everything. It was challenging, cold, upwind, terrible tacking angles, but it was a great experience. In the last 24 hours of the race everyone was trying to find the best angle for the Finish Line. We didn’t have one winch working, so we had to find a strategy which limited the number of gybes, on this occasion it didn’t quite work out, but I’m happy with the result overall!”

Image: Hello Perseverance!

In seventh place, PSP Logistics came in with a race time of 09 days, 16 hours, 45 minutes, and 55 seconds on this tactically challenging race between the two Chinese cities.

With the Finish Line a three-hour motor from the Qingdao marina, Skipper Mike Miller said on the sail in: “As we sailed between two cities, Zhuhai and Qingdao, it was the best of times, it was the worst of times. We started the race in the warmth but bashing hard upwind, when seasickness compounded the challenges of doing anything on the boat at all. We then flew towards the finish, downwind, with the boat flat, life easy and bright, winter sun warming our faces in the cloudless sky. The crew stood up to the many challenges this race threw at them and did themselves, and me, their skipper, incredibly proud.”

On arrival into port, he added: “Sailing into Qingdao is amazing, there’s such a buzz around the place.

“Race 9 is a tough one. Plenty of upwind to get us going, but then the wind changed, and it was Champagne sailing all the way home. It was a proper tough one for the new joining crew, but they have stood up fantastically. The crew has been really solid, we have amazing camaraderie here on PSP Logistics and everyone just lived up to it.”

Image: What a welcome for PSP Logistics

Dare To Lead, who had been fighting hard for its placing in the Race 9 standings, claimed eighth place, and completing the race in 09 days, 18 hours, 16 minutes, and 00 seconds. From the Finish Line, Skipper Ryan Gibson said: “The team is very tired after a difficult and enduring race however, I am very proud of how the team fought back and kept motivation right till the end claiming a satisfying result considering.”

As the team arrived into port as the sun began to set on day one arrivals, Ryan added: “The race from Zhuhai was tough! A lot of upwind sailing, lot of swell, a lot of changes – it was really tough on the new crew! However, we managed to get through it, and we had two great days coming in and sailing downwind. A good finish to a hard race!

“It’s not the result we wanted, we had a really tough start, and the tactics were difficult at the beginning. We found ourselves at the back of the pack, but we fought back. I’m proud of the crew and how they kept motivated. Getting back to eighth on this race is quite a success and we look forward to the next one!”

Image: Dare, lead, dare, lead, DARE TO LEAD

Ninth place was taken by Yacht Club Punta del Este, with a race time of 09 days, 20 hours, 5 minutes, and 22 seconds.

Skipper Nano Anita Bernardez offered insights: “We are happy to finish Race 9 to Qingdao. I can’t say we are thrilled with our position, but I can tell my crew gave all they had to make our boat fast.

“Despite the fact we did well in the first section of the race and made good speed for the Ocean Sprint, a tactical decision I made didn’t result with the outcome I was wishing for my crew – a podium.

“I must say that I am very proud of my crew and committed to do our very best to Seattle.”

Image: VAMOS Punta!

Bekezela secured tenth place, completing the race in 09 days, 21 hours, 51 minutes, and 43 seconds.

Looking back on a tough race for the team, Skipper David Hartshorn said as they crossed the Finish Line: “Great to have sailed over the Finish Line, it's been a while since we have done that. Very disappointing to have dropped a position overnight, but in the tradition of Bekezela, we had a kite mare last night when the active sheet snapped during a gybe, and we lost control of the lazy sheet in the mayhem that ensued. Looking forward to a great Qingdao welcome, have been telling the crew, it's a moment to savour and a memory from the race that will last forever.”

The first yacht to arrive on day two, David added as he arrived in Qingdao marina: “Unfortunately we made an error coming round Taiwan and have been playing catch up for the rest of the race. Our kite-mare meant Yacht Club Punta del Este came over the top of us and we lost a position on the last night.”

Image: Good morning Bekezela

Arriving into port in eleventh place was Washington, DC, with the team completing Race 9: Sailing City – Qingdao Cup in 10 days, 09 hours, 18 minutes and 27 seconds.

As the team docked in a sun-soaked Qingdao marina, Skipper Hannah Brewis said: “It was a tough race, I think a lot of boats found it difficult, us no more than others, but no denying it was tough. It’s great to be here, an amazing welcome with so many people!

“We had a bit of everything in this race, from 30knots coming from directly in front of us, to no wind, a bit of downwind at the end but I think we’ve had every single sail in the locker hoisted at some point.

“It’s been predominately upwind however, which is particularly difficult and demanding in these boats. But the crew were amazing, no complaints and we just kept going until the end. We have had a bit of bad luck and found ourselves at the back of the fleet which is always hard and makes things feel a bit worse than they are. But when you realise it’s not that bad, it’s just coming eleventh, we enjoyed ourselves and enjoyed being on the boat.”

Image: Heroes welcome for Washington, DC

The fleet is now sitting pretty in Qingdao’s sailing city marina, as Race Crew rest, recuperate and explore ahead of the next race, Race 10, which will see them take on the mighty North Pacific.

Join The Race