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Cape Breton Post - - SPORTS -

QING­DAO, China — At the end of what has been ar­guably the tough­est and clos­est legs of the 35,000mile Clip­per 09-10 Round the World Yacht Race, which is con­tested by crews from all walks of life, Cape Bre­ton Is­land has ar­rived in Qing­dao to a hero’s wel­come.

Fin­ish­ing Race 6 in sixth place, line hon­ours went to Spirit of Aus­tralia. Ja­maica Light­ning Bolt took sec­ond place and the fi­nal podium was claimed by Qing­dao, much to the de­light of the home crowd who had turned out in the thou­sands to see the fleet’s ar­rival.

As he stepped on to the pon­toon in Qing­dao’s Olympic Sail­ing Cen­tre, Cape Bre­ton Is­land’s skip­per, Jan Ridd, re­flected on the race which de­liv­ered some of the most var­ied sail­ing con­di­tions so far.

“ We were ex­pect­ing a lot worse than we ac­tu­ally had but it was bad enough,” said Ridd. “I think most of the boats had a hard time of it on the way up. North of Tai­wan we had two or three days of con­di­tions that were as bad as I want to see on this race. Be­cause of this I made a con­scious de­ci­sion to sail as con­ser­va­tively as pos­si­ble to save us from any dam­age. It prob­a­bly cost us a few po­si­tions as we were lead­ing the race up un­til that point but I have no re­grets about it as we have ar­rived here safely and the boat is un­dam­aged.

“ The crew coped ex­tremely well with the con­di­tions and I think the seas were a bit of a shock to them — when you ac­tu­ally have waves break­ing over your head on the deck it’s a lit­tle ex­treme. I don’t think any amount of train­ing could have pre­pared them for what it was like out there.”

The crew was for­mally wel­comed to the city by Wang Xi­ulin, vice mayor of Qing­dao and the Mu­nic­i­pal Peo­ple’s Gov­ern­ment. He said, “It is the third time the Clip­per Race has stopped at Qing­dao and I’d like to ex­tend, on be­half of Qing­dao Mu­nic­i­pal Gov­ern­ment and Qing­dao cit­i­zens, my sin­cer­est wel­come to skip­per Jan Ridd and the sailors of Cape Bre­ton Is­land and my warm con­grat­u­la­tions for your won­der­ful per­for­mance in this leg.”

The Clip­per 09-10 Race started from the Hum­ber on the north east coast of Eng­land on Sept. 13, 2009 and will re­turn to there on July 17. It is the only event in the world where peo­ple from all walks of life can take on the chal­lenge of a life­time and race around the globe on stripped down 68-foot ocean racing yachts.

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