Published: Tuesday, 24 January 2017

Following a tough selection trial, 14 pre-qualified candidates were chosen as the crew members who will represent Qingdao, China’s ‘Sailing City’, in the Clipper 2017-18 Race, with the Qingdao Organising Committee also requesting another two reserves.

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(Photos: Clipper Race - Qingdao)

In total, 57 people applied to be a part of the 40,000 nautical mile, eleven month global adventure, with 37 then invited attend the three day selection process. The applicants were put through their paces; taking on physical trials such as sailing, swimming and running, as well as tests to determine their English proficiency, both in writing and speaking.

Clipper Race Alumni Vicky Song was on hand to inspire and guide the candidates through the process. As a Qingdao Ambassador, Vicky became the first Chinese woman to circumnavigate the globe when she completed the 2013-14 edition of the race.

“The sailing test on day three was a fitting end to a tough week,” says Clipper Ventures Crew Recruitment and Development Director David Cusworth.“With temperatures dropping to minus two degrees, wind over 20 knots and rain, the applicants really had to dig deep. Two were seasick, but remained chirpy.

Qingdao Ambassadors Selected After Trial In China

The following candidates were selected:
Wang Bowen, Ma Hong, Tu Shan, Zhao Hongmei, Sun Yupeng, Yang Yalin, Xu Ying, Xu Huan, Liu Xintao, Luo Xiaoyu, Li Yaqi, Tian Meihong, Xu Yuxing, Zheng Yi, Liu Jingqiu (reserve), and E Xianghong (Reserve).

Out of the 14, there are six women and eight men, with the ages ranging from 20 to 48. The future ambassadors come from all walks of life, including students, teachers, a retired Navy Officer and a cruise ship photographer. 

The youngest ambassador Zheng Yi, a college student, is an experienced sailor, who has already competed in both the Qingdao Sailing Team and Shandong Sailing Team.

“My passion for sailing started because of Clipper Race, which I consider as my inspiration, and over the last 10 years, sailing has brought me great joy and memories,” says Zheng Yi. “2017 is the 10th year since I started sailing. I want to become a Qingdao Ambassador through my efforts and make my Clipper Race experience a milestone in my life.”

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(Qingdao ambassador selection process)

The crew members will now be split into two groups and travel to the UK for training in May and July. Both groups will undergo an intensive four-week training programme at the Clipper Race Headquarters in Gosport.

Over the four weeks, the amateur sailors will be physically and mentally challenged to develop the seamanship, competence and confidence needed to take on one of the world’s toughest endurance challenges. All who successfully finish training will then be offered to take part in one of the eight legs, which make up the circumnavigation.

Qingdao has sponsored an entry in the Clipper Race since 2005 to build on the legacy of hosting the sailing during the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games. Qingdao is the event’s longest standing Team Sponsor. The 2017-18 race edition will mark the seventh time Qingdao, also a Host Port, has entered a team in the biennial race across the world’s oceans.

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The Clipper 2017-18 Race will begin in the UK this summer, with the fleet expected to arrive to a warm and excited welcome in Qingdao in March 2018.