It was a big thank you and see you soon to the Jiuzhou Zhuhai Marina after a perfect stopover for Clipper Race crew.

A debut as Host Port on the Clipper Race circuit, the fleet’s first Chinese stop on this edition was one full of warm hospitality, traditional culture, fantastic entertainment and feasting. Team and Host Port Partner Jiuzhou Zhuhai Holdings put on a spectacle from the start, making home team Zhuhai and the ten other yachts of intrepid sailors feel like heroes throughout the stop.

As the sun began to set over Zhuhai, a Parade of Sail of all eleven yachts was welcomed in to port to the sound of Chinese drummers, colourful flares and sequined lion dancers. Kickstarting the celebrations, as the boats docked alongside, the Zhuhai Organising Committee greeted each team with floral garlands and a champagne spray for all, before the 200+ Race Crew spilled into a village of local street food vendors and celebratory beers- a fantastic first taste of China.

On arrival, round the world Zhuhai Ambassador Qiang Zeng said: “We are finally here in Zhuhai, our home port! Everything feels so unreal and so exciting. We’ve sailed halfway around the world, 25,000nm and five legs, and we have finally made it here. I can’t wait to show my crew and people from the Clipper Race all the great things about Zhuhai: the food, the lovely people, we will explore!”

The Zhuhai Prizegiving was another show stopping affair of Chinese dancers, banquet feasting, and entertainment to congratulate Race Crew on their Leg 5 achievements, having sailed over 3,500nm from Airlie Beach, Australia to Zhuhai, China. The Prizegiving ceremony is a highlight on any Clipper Race, as achievements are showcased, and partnerships developed over the sharing of local culture and celebration.

Joining the celebrations were Li Chong, Deputy Mayor of Zhuhai Municipal Government, and Lin Rituan, Vice Secretary General of Zhuhai Municipal Government, alongside fellow leaders from Zhuhai Municipal Government departments, the Municipal Bureau of Culture & Sports and representatives from the Zhuhai Organizing Committee. It was also a pleasure to have Sarah Mann, British Consul in Guangzhou and Facundo Fernandez Guerra, Acting Consul General of Uruguay in Guangzhou in the room to congratulate the intrepid Race Crew.

Zhang Hongyong, President of Zhuhai Huafa Urban Operation and Investment Holding Co. Said in his speech to the room: “Yesterday evening, the meandering and beautiful coastline of Zhuhai became spectacular scenery to the eleven yachts of the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race.

“We have worked with the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race team since 2018. The organisation of this top international yacht race has not only strengthened Zhuhai's international reputation, but also enhanced exchanges and co-operation between Zhuhai and the rest of the world. We are well aware that the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race is not only a spectacular sporting event, but also a bridge of friendship linking people from all over the world, which is of great significance in furthering international cultural exchanges and co-operation.”

Sharing sailing culture
As part of the Zhuhai stopover, Race Crew volunteered their time to share their ocean racing passion and knowledge with local sailing schools. Visiting the local marine museum for a Q&A, hosting talks at the Zhuhai opera house and welcoming youngsters onto boats to show them how life racing on a Clipper 70 looks, Race Crew hoped to inspire locals on the power of sailing.

Taking over the Marine Museum at the Jiuzhou Zhuhai Marina, crew from Zhuhai, UNICEF and Washington, DC took their time to share anecdotes from life at sea with a group of over 605–15-year-oldsfrom sailing schools in Macao, Hong Kong and Zhuhai. As an interactive event, and with the help of a translator, the children were able to ask the questions they wanted to know the answer to most – including how do you sleep, and do you ever see pufferfish, of course!

The same afternoon saw Zhuhai Skipper James Finney, AQP Mike Davies, and Ambassadors Qiang Zeng (Circumnavigator), Jiawei Weng (Leg 4),Xiaotong Huang and Wen Wen Lin (Leg 3) take to the stage at the iconic Zhuhai opera house for an afternoon of Q&A about life on the Clipper Race. Each showed a short presentation of their highlight on the Clipper Race so far, with the crowd of over 70 people hearing about their achievements and challenges, asking questions and finding out more about getting involved in a global sailing race. The crowds also got a chance to get hands on and learn how to tie a number of useful sailing knots, something to hopefully come in handy with their newfound sailing interests!

Mike Davies, AQP on Zhuhai said: “It was a great experience for me to see so many young faces and enthusiastic people in the audience who were eager to get involved and ask some very good questions. We hope that we have inspired them to take up sailing or to continue to sail and follow their dreams, - whether that’s getting to sail in a dinghy or sailing round the world, or one day hopefully doing the Clipper Race.”

The Zhuhai Organising Committee said: “The crew members not only shared their unforgettable experiences and harvests in the round-the-world voyage, but also incorporated the spirit of navigation into the hearts of the teenagers. Their teamwork, cooperation, bravery and perseverance have given us confidence and expectations for the future of Zhuhai. We hope that they will continue to bring the unique charm and sailing spirit of Zhuhai to a bigger state.

“We believe that the crew of Zhuhai will continue to learn and grow, not only in their sailing skills, but also as role models for the youth. Through their diligent efforts, we are confident that they will continue to make remarkable contributions to the sailing industry and the development of Zhuhai.

“Therefore, let's look forward to the surprises and achievements that the Zhuhai team will bring to us. And may they sail to a vaster blue ocean and write their own magnificent chapters in their future sailing adventures!”

Over the weekend, the Clipper Race fleet opened its hatches and invited locals to get on board to find out more about the ocean racing yachts and life circumnavigating the globe. Over 500 visitors got to meet with Race Crew and take a guided tour of a Clipper 70, and the sunny smiles as they hopped off board means there may be a few extra fans following the fleet around the world!

Dignitaries and VIPs
As the Clipper Race navigates the globe, stopovers provide the perfect opportunity for Host Port partners to network and build on relationships within the international business framework.

It was an honour to have British Consul General in Zhuhai, Ms Sarah Mann, welcome the fleet at the close of Race 8. Ms Mann took the time to visit each of the eleven racing yachts, congratulating the crew and welcoming them to the city.

Ms Mann then spent the following morning speaking with Chinese national Jun Gao, who is circumnavigating on board Zhuhai, hearing her story and about life at sea on the Clipper Race. Ms Mann also got the opportunity to take a sail into the channel on a brand-new Clipper 12, a yacht built in China that will be used in sailing schools across the country.

Tom Adams, Head of Partnerships at Clipper Ventures said: "For 28 years the Clipper Race has seen our Race Crew visit some of the most unique and inspiring areas on earth. During this time, we've forged long-term business connections in both the private and public sectors, and our close relationship with the FCDO has enabled international trade and business development for our partners and other key stakeholders. To have British Consul General Sarah Mann attending our stopover in Zhuhai demonstrates how effective the Clipper Race is as a platform for promoting international trade and relations. We're delighted to have been able to host her at our events."

The stopover also welcomed the Consulate General of Uruguay in Guangzhou Facundo Fernández Guerra, as the embassy continues to build on its relationship with the Clipper Race and Host Ports along the race route. With Yacht Club Punta del Este having been both a Host Port and Team Partner earlier on this edition, the visit from Facundo Fernández marks the eighth visit from the Embassy to a Clipper Race stopover.

Exploring Zhuhai like the locals
It wouldn’t be a Clipper Race stopover without the chance for crew to explore a new area of the world, and Zhuhai wasn’t short of experiences for them to jump into.

Thanks to Jiuzhou Zhuhai Marina, Race Crew got to explore the city like locals as they hopped on bikes and cycled along the city’s celebrated Lovers’ Road, taking in the views of the “hundred islands and a thousand sails” that Zhuhai is famed for. A weekly event for locals, it was great for our Race Crew to get out into the city and exchange stories with the community.

Over 40 Race Crew also got a chance to head out on a bus tour, visiting monuments within the city such as Lovers’ Road, Zhuhai Grand Theatre and the Fisher Girl Statue, before finishing at the Zhuhai AeroSpace Land.

Ntokozo Msiya, Leg 5 Ambassador on board Dare To Lead, said: “It was such a great experience to go inside the replica of the Chinese satellite currently in space and to see what life was is like in there. We learned so much!”

Beth Balmer, Leg 6 Ambassador on Our Isles and Oceans, added: “It was a super cool opportunity to learn more about China, and their technology developments. The AeroSpace Land is a spectacularly large building with so much history. There are exhibitions about the Chinese race to space with a full-size replica of the Chinese section of the ISS. We also saw all the earliest rocket launches and satellites plus a fully immersive 360 dome where you get to watch the history of China in space. There were plenty of exciting interactive games and simulators to engage with, there’s even a simulator you can drive a moon lander on the moon.”

Media and press

Zhuhai Skipper James Finney, AQP Mike Davies and Ambassadors Qiang Zeng and Xiding Zhao along with Race Crew Jun Gao and Jessica Fletcher took part in a press conference hosted by Team Partner Jiuzhou Zhuhai to share with local and national media outlets the pride of being the home boat for the Zhuhai stopover. The conference was a valuable opportunity for the partner to showcase investment in the Clipper Race, as well as share the successes of the Zhuhai team with the wider country.

And in a morning full of fun, the Zhuhai team had a visit from two Chinese influencers who spent their time creating content on board the team’s yacht. Tiedou got stuck in and climbed the entirety of the 29m mast, before showing off her strength in an arm wrestle with James and Mike, while Eva got hands on with the grinders, toured above and below deck and learnt about safety on board. A total of four videos were shared with their national fan base on Chinese social media channel Douyin, and had over 1.9 million views.

Race Start
Rested, relaxed, full of dumplings and ready to race. A lively departure ceremony saw the marina walls lined with hundreds of spectators, including Jiuzhou Zhuhai officials, Race Crew supporters and newly recruited Clipper Race fans. After a celebratory departure ceremony, gifting of some fabulous traditional dragon headwear and one last moment on the stage, it was onwards to Qingdao and the start of Race 9: Sailing City – Qingdao Cup.

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