Zhuhai keeps aiming high as it scoops second place spot on Race 7

18 February 2024

A late trick of tactics saw Zhuhai sail into second place after an early morning pip past UNICEF and jostle with Race 7 winners Qingdao.

The team crossed the Finish Line for Race 7: Endless Discovery in Ha Long Bay at 01:38:05 UTC, just 40 minutes after their fellow Chinese team Qingdao. However, there were times when the result looked like it could be a lot tighter. The team made the bold decision to go further west than Qingdao in a battle to find the stronger winds, and it was a move that paid off. As Qingdao sat in a wind hole, Zhuhai managed to close the 30nm gap down to just 1.5nm. ‘It’s not over till it’s over’ has definitely been the theme for this race!

Image: Zhuhai team celebrates second place and another consecutive podium

In a quote sent back from the Finish Line, Skipper James Finney said: “Well it has been quite a leg. The one consistent thing on this race for me personally has been my crew and AQP, they have done a stunning job of keeping this boat in the front five boats throughout the thrills and spills of this race and have fought incredibly hard for every metre. I feel like I say this a lot (or not enough, it’s hard to tell) it takes a lot to get ahead in a fleet as competitive as this one. Any team in this race is capable of streaking ahead of you if you drop the ball for even a split second, it feels. So, I am insanely proud of them all for the massive effort they have put in and the way they have carried themselves in this race.

“Thanks for watching supporters at home, hope we kept you in suspense, it was certainly quite tense this end!”

The Finish Line for Race 7 was situated 32nm from the Halong International Cruising Port, and the team navigated under motor through the rock formations the bay is famed for, before arriving to the smiling faces of loved ones and cold beers ready to celebrate on shore.

Image: Zhuhai arrival

Speaking from port, AQP Mike Davies said: “What a great way to come in! Kite up and cruising into Vietnam.

“It’s not what we expected though. We thought third place was ours, we’ve had Perseverance hunting us down for ages and then to pop up a couple of hundred metres from Qingdao this morning was just amazing. We all said let’s go for it, let’s chase them down.”

Skipper James added: “I wasn’t really expecting it if I’m honest! I woke up expecting to dawdle in, and then saw a boat across from us and it was Qingdao and then suddenly it was race on. It was a wonderful way to finish, nail biting to the end. And super happy for Qingdao, some incredible pace and well deserved.”

The second-place spot for Zhuhai marks the fifth consecutive podium for the team. James said: “I’m over the moon, this team have worked so hard, and this is such a difficult race to do well in. It’s so chopping and changing with the weather, so they have sailed their little socks off to get here. Next one’s the big one!”

Image: Celebratory beers

Team Partner Zhuhai Jiuzhou Navigation Culture Center Co. Ltd shared its congratulations with the crew, saying: “We would like to extend our sincere congratulations to the crew of Zhuhai on their success in the seventh race of the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race 2023-2024!

“In this world-renowned sailing competition, the crew of Zhuhai has successfully crossed a wide range of routes and overcame the challenges posed by the complex and varied marine environment and meteorological conditions by virtue of their excellent sailing skills, wise strategic decisions and efficient co-operation. The fact that they have risen to the challenge of ocean currents and wind tunnels demonstrates the strength and uniqueness of Zhuhai as a top-class sailing team. Reviewing the performance of the recent races, Zhuhai's five podium finishes are remarkable. These consecutive outstanding performances not only highlight the extraordinary strength of the team, but also reflect the superior teamwork and sailing skills of the team. We are eagerly looking forward to witnessing Zhuhai's glorious victory in the Clipper Race at the beautiful port of Jiuzhou, Zhuhai, in March and sharing this unparalleled joy!

“Wish all the crew members a great success in their future sailing journey!”

Image: Zhuhai team

Claire Thomas, crew member on Zhuhai said: “It was misty, so we could see Qingdao in the distance just two miles ahead. We didn’t know where UNICEF was, everyone was looking for the team, there are so many boats out there! Anyway we did it, amazing!”

Round the world Ambassador on board Zhuhai Frank Zeng said on arrival: “We just finished crossing the line in second: wonderful! This leg was challenging and hot, as we crossed the Equator again. I think we did a great job, and make it to Ha Long Bay in second!

“It was very fortunate to celebrate Chinese New Year with our crew. Usually we celebrate with all of our family, and this time it was with my crew at sea which was a really great experience. We had a dumpling making class, a Chinese teaching class, taught everyone what the Year of the Dragon means. It was a wonderful time.”

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