|Crew teams competing in the Clipper 2015-16 Round the World Yacht Race left Da Nang port for Qingdao, China, on the eighth leg of the race, following an emotional farewell on Saturday.— Photo baogiaothong.vn
DA NANG (VNS) — Crew teams competing in the Clipper 2015-16 Round the World Yacht Race left Da Nang port for Qingdao, China, on the eighth leg of the race, following an emotional farewell on Saturday.
The race, from Airlie Beach in Whitsundays, Australia, included a 10-day stop over in Da Nang from February 17-27.
During an on-stage departure ceremony, watched by hundreds of people, legendary sailor and Clipper Race Chairman Sir Robin Knox-Johnston congratulated the city for creating a wonderful stopover experience and for having the vision to host the fleet and participate in the race.
"We don't see today's departure as an end but, potentially, just the beginning of a longer-term relationship between the Clipper Race, Da Nang and Viet Nam," said Knox-Johnston.
Vice chairman of Da Nang city's People's Committee, Dang Viet Dung, said, "Having stayed in Da Nang for ten days, crew members visited beautiful destinations in the city and surrounding places, enjoyed traditional foods, met local people and took part in many cultural and sport activities.
"During these days, thousands of people in the city, as well as domestic and international visitors, had the opportunity to witness the colourful and lively Clipper Race fleet on the Han River, meet the crews and understand more about this tough ocean race. The crews' activities here have created a wonderful impression and a festive and colourful atmosphere in the city."
To the crew, he added, "Today, you are ready for the next race to Qingdao, and lots of challenges await. We wish you all safe passage in your journey and we believe that, with your bravery and professionalism, you will complete the race safely."
Prior to each team taking the stage, where they were presented with a trophy and a large team picture, Da Nang-Viet Nam Skipper Wendy Tuck spoke to city officials and the attending crowds on behalf of all the skippers and crews.
"Thank you to all the people of Da Nang who have visited the port and welcomed the skippers and crews so warmly to the city, wherever they have seen us, and especially to those who lined the Han River in their thousands to see the whole fleet parade on Thursday night to Dragon Bridge. It made us all feel very special. It has been an incredible stopover and one of the friendliest we have been to, so thanks to all from the bottom of our hearts," said Tuck.
Tuck, who celebrates her birthday on March 1, was also given a surprise bouquet of flowers and a gift from the city, as it declared the day "Wendy Tuck Day", much to her team's amusement.
After enjoying their moments on stage, each team took to its boat and swiftly slipped lines in front of local spectators, who had lined the barriers and waited to wave them off one last time. Teams then made their way around the Son Tra Peninsula to the race starting line opposite the VinPearl Resort on Da Nang Beach.
The Sailing City-Qingdao Cup has the potential to be the most challenging of the 14-race global series, as the teams face a long beat into the wind.
Sir Knox-Johnston explained, "This is going to be a bash. You go up north of here and level with Taiwan, and you'll be getting waves. 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, so crews really do need all the warm clothing they can find."
The leg from Da Nang to Qingdao is approximately 1,700 nautical miles, but given the weather, and sea 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.
Visit Seattle was the first team over the line at Da Nang beach in blustery conditions, though they were 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 fleet is expected to arrive in Qingdao, China from March 10-13. The Clipper Race will then continue across the Pacific Ocean to Seattle and on to Panama, New York, Derry Londonderry, and Den Helder, before returning to London on 30 July 2016. — VNS