Liverpool 2018 claim Clipper Race podium in dramatic Qingdao finish

THE crew of Liverpool 2018 competing in the biggest ever Clipper Round the World Yacht Race, which left Liverpool’s Albert Dock in August last year, has snatched a podium place in a dramatic finish into Qingdao, China in the eighth of thirteen races that make up the global circumnavigation.

The Clipper Race competitors have once again proved that the race is never over until that finish line is crossed as anything is possible. Liverpool 2018 overtook PSP Logistics, which had led the race for the previous eight days and seemed assured of victory, with less than five nautical miles to go to the finish line and secured a podium place and 10 vital race points.

Skippered by Lance Shepherd, from Blackpool, the 18-strong Liverpool 2018 team crossed the finish line off the coast of Qingdao at 0225 local time on Thursday 15 March (1825 14/3/2018) after a 1,700 nautical mile race from Sanya. Skipper Lance said: “It has been a very tactical race with every weather you could imagine – except snow…but that might come yet. 

“The racing has been very close and we have been playing cat and mouse with the top two [Sanya Serenity Coast and Visit Seattle]. It’s always exciting when one gybe or tack can make all the difference.”

The team sailed a strong and impressive race from tropical Sanya to Qingdao, peaking at second place on Day 2. On top of the tough upwind conditions and plummeting temperatures experienced as the team raced north, obstacles included some of the world’s largest fishing fleets which stretch for miles and light up the night sky in the China Sea.

Crew member Mikey Hale, a 31-year-old A&E Doctor from Liverpool and currently living in Australia, was on board for Race 8, which is the second and final race of Leg 5. Upon arrival, he said: “It was absolutely fab, we are absolutely buzzing, I can’t believe it!

“It is awseome to be in third place, it was a really tough race but everyone has pulled together on Liverpool 2018 and we dug deep and got there.”

It is the second time that the team has finished in third place and Lance added: “It is fantastic to get our second podium, with a third place, the crew have performed amazingly and they should be very proud of themselves having achieved something special.”

The result is a huge boost for the team, whose next challenge will be to race to Seattle in the 5,600 nautical mile Mighty Pacific Ocean Leg, in Leg 6 of the race which sets sail on Friday 23 March. For now though, the team will have a chance to rest, and Lance explains: “Really looking forward to a cold beer and a warm bed. Bring on the mighty Pacific.”

Around 200 people from all walks of life and representing 22 different nationalities are taking part in Race 8, which is part of the fifth of eight Legs which make up the Clipper 2017-18 Race’s global route. The Clipper Race is seen as one of the world’s toughest endurance challenges and is unique in that it is raced by everyday people with each of the eleven teams being led by a professional skipper.

In 1996, legendary yachtsman Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, the first person to sail solo, non-stop around the world in 1968-69, founded the race as a way to give everyone, no matter their sailing experience, the chance to become an ocean racer. Approximately 40 per cent of crew members have never sailed before they sign up for the 40,000 nautical miles circumnavigation, which is divided into eight legs and features six ocean crossings.

Liverpool 2018 will be one of the first Clipper Race teams to arrive at the newly constructed Wanda Yacht Club in the West Coast New Area of Qingdao, with the Skipper and crew to be given a full taste of the famous Qingdao welcome at their arrival ceremony set to take place at 1100 local time (0300 UTC) on Thursday 15 March.

This will be the seventh time the Clipper Race has included Qingdao as a Host Port on its global racing route, with the city the longest serving Host Port Partner of the race.

Five of the eight Clipper Race legs have now been completed. Since starting in Liverpool, England on 20 August last year, the eleven strong Clipper Race fleet has raced to; Punta del Este, Uruguay; Cape Town, South Africa; Fremantle, Sydney, Hobart and the Whitsundays, Australia; Sanya and now Qingdao, China.

Teams will depart for Seattle, USA, on 23 March, and continue via Panama, New York, Derry-Londonderry, before returning to Liverpool on 28 July 2018, where one team will have the honour of being crowned the Clipper 2017-18 Race Winners.