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Record Chinese representation in Clipper Round the World Yacht Race

by Morgan Kasmarik 29 Apr 2019 16:06 BST
Chinese Skipper announcement © Clipper Ventures

The twelfth consecutive edition of the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race is set to prove sailing in China is going from strength to strength, with a record number of Chinese crew and teams set to take part in the global ocean adventure.

For the first time in the 23 year history of the Clipper Race, there will be three Chinese teams, with the cities of Qingdao, Sanya and Zhuhai to compete against eight other teams as they race 40,000 nautical miles around the planet. To assist in their global adventure, the Qingdao team will be led by British yachtsman Chris Brooks, Scottish Skipper Seumas Kellock will be at the helm for team Visit Sanya, while world record breaking South African sailor Nick Leggat will skipper the Zhuhai team.

The previous edition of the Clipper Race was a huge triumph for the Chinese entrants. Sanya capped off a memorable debut by claiming the overall win, with Skipper Wendy Tuck making history as the first female skipper to ever win a round the world yacht race. Team Qingdao continued the Chinese success by finishing third.

Following the recent Selection Week in Sanya, there will be a record 48 Ambassador Crew from the cities of Sanya, Zhuhai and Qingdao travelling to the UK to spend a month training to be ocean racers. Just like the wider Clipper Race crew, the ambassadors are of all ages and come from all walks of life, and include a graphic designer, engineer, CEO, bilingual event host, snowboard instructor and teacher. What unifies the ambassadors is their desire to become sailors and promote their cities around the world.

The Clipper Race is undoubtedly one of the greatest ocean adventures and renowned as the toughest endurance challenges on the planet. Founded in 1996 by Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, who this month celebrated 50 years since becoming the first person to sail solo and non-stop around the world, it is the only event of its kind for non-professional sailors.

Taking almost a year to complete, it consists of eleven teams, each made up of a Skipper, Mate, and a crew who come from all over the globe and many different walks of life, competing against each other on the world's largest matched fleet of 70-foot ocean racing yachts. Fewer people have sailed around the world than climbed Mount Everest, and with 40 percent of crew having no previous sailing experience before signing up - the achievement is all the more incredible.

Clipper Race Founder and Chairman Sir Robin Knox-Johnston said: "Through the Ambassador Crew programmes for our Chinese Partners, hundreds of people have been introduced to sailing and trained as ocean racers.

"The first Chinese man and woman to sail around the world, Guo Chuan and Vicky Song, both began their sailing careers as Qingdao Ambassadors in the Clipper Race.

"More than 700 people from 44 different countries will be taking part in the Clipper 2019-20 Race, with more than half of them visiting one or more of our Chinese Host Port Partner Cities during their time on the race. Chris, Nick and Seumas (the three Skippers representing Qingdao, Zhuhai and Sanya respectively) are exceptional leaders and ready to fly the flag for their adopted Chinese cities. The welcome they will receive into their Host Ports will be second to none."

The Clipper Race's association with China is long standing. Qingdao is the longest serving Host Port and Team Partner in the history of the global event. The Clipper 2019-20 Race will be the eighth consecutive edition to feature the iconic red and gold hull of China's Sailing City. This will be the second straight race for the tropical paradise city of Sanya, while Zhuhai will make its debut in the upcoming Clipper 2019-20 Race which will start in the UK this summer. Zhuhai, China's City of Islands, is already shaping up as highlight destination for crew due to its spectacular coastline and the world's longest sea crossing bridge, has signed a three edition deal to be a Host Port and Team Partner for the 2019-20, 2021-22 and 2023-24 editions of the global event.

Beyond the race, its organising company, Clipper Ventures, recently announced a new Chinese division to meet the country's growing participation in sailing. Named Clipper China, this new division will utilise the world-class sail training expertise of the Clipper Race to develop offshore sail training and regattas in cities across China, and is currently building its own offshore racing yachts for its use.

Starting from the UK later this summer, the Clipper 2019-20 Race route will see the teams race from the UK, across the Atlantic to South America; the South Atlantic to South Africa; across the Southern Ocean's Roaring Forties to Western Australia; around to East Australia, back into the Northern Hemisphere to China where teams will race to Qingdao, via Sanya and Zhuhai; across the mighty North Pacific to West Coast USA; to East Coast USA via the famous Panama Canal; and then it's a final Atlantic crossing; before arriving back to the UK as fully proven ocean racers.

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