There was yet another incredibly close finish to what has been the hottest Leg of the Clipper 2017-18 Race so far. Starting in the Whitsundays, Australia, and racing to the debut Host Port of Sanya, China, all eleven Clipper Race teams finished the 4,300 nautical mile course within 21 hours.

After 23 days of racing, PSP Logistics, Qingdao, Dare To Lead, Sanya Serenity Coast, Unicef and Visit Seattle crossed the finish line during the night in China just outside Sanya’s Serenity Marina between 12:41 UTC and 20:38 UTC on Thursday 22nd February. Liverpool 2018, Nasdaq, Garmin, and GREAT Britain arrived in daylight between 02:41 UTC and 09:07 UTC on Friday 23rd February.

PSP Logistics overtook Qingdao just days from the finishi to claim first place, crossing the line at 12:41 UTC, and although Qingdao was the second team to cross the line at 18:17:39 UTC, Dare To Lead’s redress of 1 hour 24 minutes means it ended up taking second place in the overall standings, with a revised finish time of 16.53 UTC. The redress was for going to the assistance of Liverpool 2018 during the fourth day of racing to transfer a spare part for the team’s onboard watermaker.

The Forever Tropical Paradise Race, the seventh of thirteen individual races, was a tough, hot endurance test that included a Doldrums Corridor, Equator crossing, King Neptune Ceremonies, a Scoring Gate and an Elliot Brown Ocean Sprint.

On arrival into Sanya, the organising committee put on a spectacular welcome for the podium teams and its team entry, Sanya Serenity Coast . The top placed teams were greeted by a lion dance procession which leadi teams to the Clipper Race Arrivals Stage for a performance. Afterwards, the teams where presented with their pennants by members of the Sanya delegation and a Champagne spray finished off the celebrations.

Reflecting on the race, which was also the first win for PSP Logistics, Skipper Matt Michell said: “It’s awesome. It was pretty tense with every schedule when we got the position reports in and each time it did, we thought we had dodged a bullet. We dodged the final bullet this morning and we’re really pleased we managed to hold the others off.”

Speaking at the Serenity Coast Arrival Press Conference, Sanya Serenity Coast Skipper Wendy Tuck thanked Vice Mayor, Xu Zhenling, for the warm welcome and spoke about the tough race to the team’s home port. After Sir Robin announced that Sanya Serenity Coast will still lead the overall Clipper 2017-18 Race leaderboard, she said: “We don’t have to be the strongest, we need to be the smartest.”

Sanya shines as international sailing destination

Ever since Sanya was announced as a brand new Chinese Host Port for the Clipper 2017-18 Race route in February 2017, there was great intrigue and anticipation around the debut stopover in the emerging tropical resort which is often dubbed ‘Oriental Hawaii’.

The idyllic destination put its major sailing event hosting capabilities on display, having previously hosted the Volvo Ocean Race, the Round Hainan Regatta and the Youth Sailing World Championships, to demonstrate how its sailing facilities make it a world-leading destination for sailing as it debuts as a Host Port and Team Partner during the 2017-18 edition of the race.

For the first time in Clipper Race history, the entire Clipper 70 fleet took to the water at the same time for the inaugural Sanya Serenity Coast In-Port Regatta. Streamed live via nineteen online channels and on television in Sanya, people from all over the world were able to watch the first ever Clipper Race Sanya Serenity Coast In-Port Regatta in real-time from the comfort of their home.

The In-Port race streaming proved that there was huge interest in the race across China, as an incredible 567,646 people tuned in live across the region to watch it.

The broadcast also displayed the fantastic sailing destination of Sanya and the world class facilities of the Sanya Serenity Marina, a Marina Industries Association Platinum Level Five Gold Anchor marina, which is the highest level of accreditation, and the only one of its kind in Asia.

The teams looked brilliant against the city backdrop and azure waters of the Sanya Bay, especially the bright pink Liverpool 2018 team entry, which was the first across the line, followed by PSP Logistics and Nasdaq.

Commenting on the results, Clipper Race CEO William Ward said: “This was the first time we’ve ever organised an in-port fleet race so to have over half a million people tune in live to watch it is just phenomenal. Interest in sailing in China has grown steadily over the last twelve years we have been going there. With the addition of a Sanya Serenity Coast Team Entry and Host Port, we also have now doubled our Chinese race crew in this edition which certainly helps generate interest.”

39 Chinese crew members, including city ambassadors on board each leg for both the Qingdao and the Sanya Serenity Coast teams, are taking part in the Clipper 2017-18 Race, making China the fourth highest represented nationality of race crew.

Sanya demonstrated its hosting capabilities by organising a comprehensive Race Village that provided experiential activities for visitors as well as information on the race. Visitors were kept busy trying out the Lego building centre, testing sailing skills with model yacht races, a Zorb Ball game area, or taking part in cosplay. Food stalls provided a welcome area to relax in and an opportunity to indulge in some Chinese favourites, whilst in the Clipper Race Dome, people had the chance to experience what life is like on board Sanya Serenity Coast through the power of virtual reality goggles, as well as testing their skills at the Marlow Rope Knot Tying Station.

Furthermore, over 1000 tourists and locals got on board the Clipper 70 sailing yachts for tours and had the opportunity to meet some of the intrepid Clipper Race Crew members who had sailed some 25,000 nautical miles over halfway around the globe.

Clipper Connect: The $7bn Tourism Industry

The first Clipper Connect Business networking event, held in partnership with Sanya Serenity Coast, was hailed a huge success by local government, tourism and Clipper Race delegations alike.

The Clipper Connect Business Series provides a platform for the Clipper Race to connect like-minded professionals as the race travels the world and the inaugural event provided the ideal platform to showcase how Sanya is making its mark in the $7.1 trillion travel and tourism industry and why they chose the Clipper Race as the platform to support this.

Jonathan Levy, Clipper Race Director of Sponsorship, hosted the event and was joined by over 60 attendees including Clipper Race CEO, William Ward OBE, Clipper Race Founder and Chairman, Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, and Clipper Race Head of Partnerships, Laura Ayres.

Sanya delegates in attendance included: Wang Kehong, Vice Secretary-General of Sanya City; Sixian Tang, Consulting Director of Sanya Tourism Development Commission; Gao Li, General Manager of Hainan Sweet Home Hotel Management; Liang Qunfang, General Manager of Sanya Tianya-Haijiao Tourism Development Company; Chen Guojiang, General Manager of Sanya HIMICE Co. Ltd; Yang Xiaohai, Vice President of Sanya Wuzhizhou Island Tourist Area; and Zhao Kuan, General Secretary of Sanya Tourism Association.

After an introduction to the Clipper Race from William Ward OBE, Jonathan Levy kicked off the open table discussion by discussing what Sanya aims to achieve. Wang Kehong, Vice Secretary-General of Sanya City, said: "The reason why the Sanya government has signed two contracts with the Clipper Race is that we want to promote Sanya and its many facets including sports, culture, tourism, economy and minority cultures.

"Let's work very closely to take advantage of this place to promote Sanya and to produce even better news for the next race."

The discussion then moved on to focus on how the Clipper Race has helped Sanya promote its tourism globally and built an “International Sailing City”. Sixian Tang, Consulting Director of Sanya Tourism Development Commission, took the lead. He said: “By taking part in the Clipper Race, Sanya has benefitted in terms of the national press and marketing and the city promotion; so far I think it has been very successful.

“The Sanya government has also been successful in promoting the event by social media and organising a professional team to lead on the national marketing following and leveraging Sanya’s involvement in the Clipper Race.”

Wang Kehong supported Sixian Tang’s statements going on to praise the efforts of the local government in fully embracing and supporting the Clipper Race.

After watching a short video which showed the journey of the city’s team entry, Sanya Serenity Coast , so far, the focus turned to looking ahead in the partnership and the exciting opportunities that will bring to grow the new partnership together. Laura Ayres, Head of Clipper Race Partnerships, said: “When a delegation from Sanya visited our training centre in the UK, we worked with them to visit RORC, the RYA and World Sailing to make sure that we are positioning Sanya as an international sailing destination to the world leaders of sailing.

"In the UK, approximately 7% of the population sail. If that had the same impact here, you would be looking at over 70 million people so, for us, the key is the next generation and engaging youth sailors or the young people of China in sailing, trying to make it accessible for all people.

"If that generation come through and become a generation of Chinese sailors then we as a company will be looking at what the opportunities are and, who knows, maybe even a Clipper Race training centre here in Sanya."

Spotlight on Sanya: Tropical China

The tourism industry in Sanya has been hailed as world class by the Clipper Race crew, following the successful inaugural stopover in China’s tropical paradise.

Around 200 crew members from all walks of life and representing 22 different nationalities were in Sanya for nine days from 24 February until 4 March with the Clipper Race.

Sanya is China’s top national holiday destination but is now aiming to make its mark in the $7.1 trillion global travel and tourism industry, so hosted a wide range of events to show off what makes it so popular.

A city that boasts a mix of traditions and modern Chinese culture, and contrasting urban and rural areas with the biggest drawcard of all being its idyllic palm fringed picture perfect sandy beaches, it was the only Chinese destination chosen as one of the New York Times’ 52 Places to Go In 2017, and it didn’t take long for crew to get why.

Going all out to ensure that the race’s international crew, who represented more than 20 different nationalities and many who had never visited China before, departed with plenty of great memories, Sanya Organising Committee and Visit Sanya also laid on numerous sightseeing days and cultural experiences including visits to key landmarks, the Li Village and Chinese Cooking Classes.

Early figures show that the crew fully embraced the local tourism industry and in total, crew took part in 139 tourism experiences, with Cirque du Soliel performance, ‘Toruk’, being the most popular.

In order to give the Clipper Race crew a proper introduction to all the delights of Sanya, a number of tourism days were organised, including one planned and executed by the tourism body, Visit Sanya. One crew member from each of the eleven teams attended the day, which included a visit to the Nanshan Cultural Tourism Zone, Binlang Valley, and Romance Park, as well as meals at incredible local restaurants.

“The whole day was incredible,” says 56-year-old New Zealand farmer Greg Glover, a round the world crew member on

“Going out to the coast where the great Buddha statue is, the vegetarian lunch was amazing, just so tasty, seeing the traditional village was mind blowing and what a finish to the day at Romance Park. Jet skis on stage!

“Thank you doesn’t seem enough for the day. Visit Sanya has got an amazing product and from a tourism point of view, the tourists that come here could be nothing but happy with what there is to see and what there is to do.”

76 per cent of crew admitted that they would have not considered visiting Sanya if not for the Clipper Race. But before departing for Race 8 of the Clipper 2017-18 Race from Sanya to Qingdao in northern China, more than a third of Clipper Race crew polled indicated they would like to return to Sanya, whilst almost half confirmed that they would recommend Sanya as a tourist destination.

The Clipper Race will return to Sanya during the 2019-20 edition of the race, which will begin in the Summer of 2019.

PSP Logistics Strengthens Business Connections in Asia

PSP Logistics took advantage of the Clipper Race stopover in Sanya, China, to concentrate on its business growth strategy within the Asian market.

A long-standing Clipper Race Partner, PSP Logistics utilised its partnership benefits by hosting a client Sail Day during the stopover in the tropical resort to entertain guests including those from Simpson Marine, Asia’s leading yacht dealership, to develop business relationships for the future.

Jo Dixie, Marketing Director, said: “China is a significant growth market for us here at PSP Logistics. There are many leisure and commercial boats being built in the Chinese shipyards and exported all over the world so it made sense for us to utilise our partnership with the Clipper Race to promote the PSP brand on a global scale. Everyone thoroughly enjoyed the day on board PSP Logistics and it provided a perfect environment to promote our services.

“We were always going to activate in Sanya as it not only provides a beautiful warm setting but it’s also easy to get to so we were able to invite guests from Malaysia, Hong Kong and Singapore.”

In addition to this, representatives from PSP Logistics also attended business meetings in nearby Hong Kong where they took the opportunity to catch up with a number of existing clients and suppliers in the region before joining the Clipper Race fleet during the Qingdao stopover.

PSP Logistics continues with plans to develop with their partners in the region and has recently confirmed that it will be exhibiting at Seawork Asia, the largest commercial marine and workboat exhibition in the Asia region, in Shanghai at the end of the year.

International Women’s Day

There have been many stories of inspirational women on the Clipper 2017-18 Race so far and on Thursday 08 March, International Women’s Day (IWD) 2018, it was the perfect time to pay homage to these amazing individuals who have come from all walks of life in order to take on one of the toughest endurance races on the planet.

IWD was established in the early 1900s and is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. This year’s theme is #PressforProgress, which the Clipper Race is fully supportive of. When it comes to sailing, which has traditionally been seen as a male-dominated sport, the Clipper Race has bucked the trend with around a third of the crew being females of all ages and nationalities.

206 of our intrepid ocean racers are female ranging from the age of 18, up to 71 years old. Jemma Cowley was aiming to be the oldest female circumnavigator on the Clipper 2017-18 Race before she was forced to retire through injury but she cannot wait to re-join again in Seattle, saying: “Being on the Clipper Race is one of the best things I have done in my very ‘short life’ of 66 years. Sexism and ageism haven’t been a problem for me thus making me feel very much part of the team.

“I had very little sailing experience, and none in the last 20 years, until I joined the Clipper Race and I feel very fortunate to be part of it.”

Jemma is originally from Trinidad and is one of many women that make up a vastly international crew with 17 different nations being represented, including Japan, India, Poland and for the first time, the Czech Republic.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, considering there are two Chinese entries in this edition, the largest contingent of female crew, outside of the UK, is from China. Many have been inspired by former Qingdao crew member, Vicky Song, who was heralded as a role model for women when she became the first Chinese woman to sail around the world in the Clipper 2013-14 Race.

She went on to be awarded as one of the most influential women of the year in 2014 by the organisation UN Women and has spoken to many young women about her experience to motivate them to be ambitious. She says: “A lot of girls come to me and say ‘I didn’t think as a girl I could do that as well’, and I tell them they’re not any less strong than men. I think attitudes and respect to women is improving in China. So hopefully we can inspire more women to go out and share the bigger picture with the community.”

One such crew member who was inspired by Vicky Song was Hong Ma (Helen), 29 who is a secretary and translator from Qingdao. She says: “It’s a huge dream of mine to be able to follow what Vicky has done. She’s been a big inspiration to me and doing the race has been one of the greatest achievements in my life.

“The chance to meet and be part of a team with so many people, male and female, from all over the world is something so valuable. I would tell anyone thinking of it just to have no fear, go for it and try it for themselves.”

Someone who has taken action after being inspired by a previous female Clipper Race Skipper is Nikki Henderson who, at 24, is the youngest ever Clipper Race Skipper ( Visit Seattle). Nikki, whose team is currently third in the overall Clipper 2017-18 Race standings, says: “I’ve wanted to be a Clipper Race Skipper for a long time and followed the Clipper 2013-14 Race in particular very closely. I was very interested to see how Vicky Ellis did – the only female Skipper in that edition – and when I returned from the US, I saw that the applications were open to be a Clipper Race Skipper and got mine in as quickly as possible.”

She added: “I’ve done a lot of work with all-female teams. There’s definitely not enough women in the industry and I think that things like the Clipper Race help to get more women into the sport. If I can be an advocate for getting more women in to sailing, then that’s absolutely great.”

The Clipper Race continues with the aim of improving gender parity in the sport of sailing and to boost the number of women taking part in the Clipper 2019-20 Race. The gender split for applications received so far for the next edition is around 30% female already.

Clipper Ventures CEO Awarded OBE by HRH Prince Charles

Whilst the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race fleet races from Sanya to Qingdao, Clipper Ventures Co-Founder and CEO William Ward has made a quick dash home to the UK for a very important reason - to be awarded his Order of the British Empire (OBE) from the Prince of Wales, HRH Prince Charles.

William was presented with his OBE at Buckingham Palace this week after being named in The Queen’s 2018 New Year’s Honours List for his services to the economy and to the GREAT Britain campaign, aimed at “bringing the best of Britain to the world”.

After receiving the award, William said: “It was a great honour to be invited to Buckingham Palace to meet Prince Charles and receive this award. Being a businessman who has always been hugely patriotic, it was a particularly proud moment for me to be recognised in this way.”

Since founding the Clipper Race alongside Sir Robin Knox-Johnston in 1996, the biannual event, now in its eleventh edition, has grown significantly, with 712 people representing 41 different nationalities currently taking part in the Clipper 2017-18 Race.

William Ward says: “We have not only developed the Clipper Race into a successful international business generating trade and contributing millions of dollars into local economies, but we have also created a unique global marketing platform that has developed export markets, boosted trade and tourism, and attracted inward investment.”