Race 10 at last

Well we’ve finally started racing – once we round the bottom of Japan, it’ll be a swift flight home across the Pacific (I hope!)
Our stop in Qingdao was short, but refreshing. After race 9, clean comfy beds, hot baths, and fresh food were amazing. And I really enjoyed the CHinese home visit – with Katy Savage from DLL, I spent a rewarding and relaxing day with hosts ‘Fire’ and ‘Humming Bird’. THey were so welcoming – they took the trouble to notice what our favorite foods were – in both our cases, vegetables, so they took us to a local market to buy cauliflower (for me) and eggplant (for Katy), along with some really fresh seafood. The market was like food porn to us sailors, full of color and scnets of things we’ve been deprived of! THen it was back to their sunny apartment, where we drank tea, chatted, made dumplings, feasted on the food from the market, drank more tea, relaxed, chatted… a lovely day with lovely people – I feel privileged to have shared it with them.
THere was another dazzling ceremony, with all the drummers and razmattazz of arrival, before a starting gun was fired for race 10. We all marched back to our boats and left, holding a parade of sail in watery sunshine filtering through the usual fog. Eventually there was enough wind and visibility to start, although there was a slight delay for a fishing boat, with its nets down, in the middle of the start area. THe start, however, was just for show, and after a slightly more relaxed jostle for position than usual (aboard Henri Lloyd anyway), as soon as we were out of sight of Qingdao’s skyscrapers, it was sails down and back to motoring through the fog and heavy shipping. In fact it wasn’t until the dawn of our third day out that we started racing – this time a Le Mans star, where we all line up in a row, then hoist identical sails and hold identical courses for 10 minutes. I think it was quite a tough job for Eric, who happened to be duty skipper, keeping 11 CLipper Skippers and their vessels together for all that time, and coordinating a start in the middle of nowhere! Especially as Qingdao was first far behind, then far ahead, working out problems with weed wrapped around the prop. ANd even in the last couple of minutes before the off, GB was out ahead of the line, perhaps hoping everybody else would catch them up, but eventually having to make a hasty circle and get back into their place. But finally we were off, ready to race across the mighty Pacific.

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