Clipper Round the World Yacht Race 2015 -16 – The Da Nang – Viet Nam crew always knew it was going to be special sailing into its home port, but no one was quite prepared for the pomp and ceremony that awaited them upon arrival.
Skipper Wendy Tuck and her crew sported traditional bamboo hats as they berthed at the Han River Port, where the city’s dignitaries, national media and hundreds of supporters gathered to greet them.
Speaking to the crowd, Skipper Wendy Tuck, who is fast becoming a celebrity figure in Vietnam, said: ‘The entire crew has been so excited, the whole way up we’ve been saying “We’re going to Da Nang, we’re going to Da Nang.” This is what we’ve been waiting for. We are so proud to represent Da Nang, Vietnam around the world and we really do feel like we’ve come home as we arrived into port today. It’s even more fantastic than we’d ever imagined. I think this is one of those life moments that you will remember forever.
On the race, Wendy says: ‘We had a few new crew for this leg, we thought the race would be a bit easier than it was, it was pretty hard going at times, it was a bit of an eye-opener for everyone. But the crew gelled really well with the new guys getting on board and having Minh An, who is a local from Da Nang was brilliant also.
‘He did really well, especially considering he suffered a bit of seasickness in the beginning. Even though he works on a tug boat in the Han River Port, it’s very different being out in high seas.
Stepping back on dry land, Minh An was reunited with his parents. He says: ‘Wow, what a ride that was. Like nothing I’ve ever done in my life, and really hard! I felt seasick at times when it got really rough, and I missed home as I’ve never spent New Year away from my family but the team, and Wendy, were really amazing and made me feel very welcome. Arriving home to such an incredible welcome is a fantastic feeling. I want it to last forever – we all feel like heroes!
Next up was ClipperTelemed+ which managed to finish in seventh place despite having to suspend racing for 22 hours in order to resolve a particularly nasty spinnaker wrap incident. Skipper Matt Mitchell says: “It’s been a very tough leg for all the crew with various pitfalls along the way. We had a period of time where we stopped sailing to resolve a problem but thankfully the team were able to work day and night to get us back out sailing again, carry on racing and finish in a very respectable seventh.’
As ClipperTelemed+ stepped down from the stage, IchorCoal was pulling up alongside as the sun set over the Han River. After finishing in eighth place, Skipper Darren Ladd says: “That arrival was crazy! To stand on the stage for half an hour after the presentation and speeches, with people coming up for photos, it is fantastic, absolutely fantastic.
“We had this big conversation on board today about how in any race we would be really, really happy to get in on the first day of the arrival window, and that’s how we feel now. At over 6000 nautical miles, it was a long race, but we are so happy to be here and the welcome couldn’t have been any better.
“I spent a few weeks in Vietnam when I travelled around South East Asia, it’s a beautiful country. This is my first time in Da Nang though, so I’m looking forward to this stopover,” Darren added.
The penultimate yacht to arrive today is PSP Logistics which picked up four points for finishing in ninth. Skipper Max Stunell says: “I am very, very impressed, it’s so different to anything I have seen before. It’s a very different culture. After the hardships of an ocean voyage to have a warm welcome like this is amazing!
“In terms of the race itself, well, everyone is still smiling. When the goalposts keep getting moved it is hard to motivate the crew but we did what we needed to do. We got ahead of Unicef and stayed ahead of them. We have a bit of a problem going up wind and I think it might be the helming, but we share it amongst everyone. One of our philosophies is that everyone shares everything, so while some can steer faster than others as this is an experience for all on board, they deserve to get their turn. Now they are improving so for the next race to Qingdao everyone is going to be stronger and we can go for it.
“I’ve never been to South East Asia and I am especially looking forward to the food here.”
Visit Seattle was the final boat to arrive today. Families bought their children down to the port after school to meet the crew, in the stage presentation which had a really fun party vibe to it. The only team to arrive in darkness, the crew stood out in their bright green jackets.
Despite finishing in twelfth place, Visit Seattle seemed as spirited as ever as the crew danced and hugged each other on stage, celebrating the end of another tough challenge.
Skipper Huw Fernie told the crowd: ‘Arriving into Da Nang has been everything we thought it would be, Very impressive and incredibly welcoming. We’re the only team that has got to arrive at night time and we feel really lucky to be able to see this beautiful city all lit up like this, it has made it extra special. Coming in from the sea it just looks amazing, What a reception – thank you all for coming tonight.’
Mission Peformance and Unicef will now arrive tomorrow morning.