23 January 2010
Marina at Keppel Bay, Singapore
To the pulsating beats of 41 drummers, the Clipper 09-10 Race fleet made a dramatic entrance to Marina at Keppel Bay, Singapore, this morning. Waiting to welcome them and beating drums of their own, the spectators included families, friends and fellow crew who had flown in for the stopover.
Singaporean crew members, Nicole Ho, who is taking part in the whole circumnavigation, and marketing executive, Karan Teo, competing on Leg 4, waved to the crowds from the spreaders, 60 feet up either side of the mast of Uniquely Singapore as the home team entered the marina. Confetti canons fired multi-coloured pieces of paper over the crew to welcome them.
Marina at Keppel Bay is owned by Uniquely Singapore‘s sponsor, Keppel Corporation, and chairman of the company, Dr Lee Boon Yang, heralded the arrival of the first boats by banging three times on a huge drum to start proceedings before the drummers beat a rhythmic tattoo.
Nicole, who left Singapore in May to begin her pre-race training in the UK and was arriving home for the first time since then, said, « It was an amazing experience as we entered the marina. The drumming had such an effect on you, everybody was waving – I never expected this. Honestly, I had tears in my eyes. So did my Mum and my Dad who both had tears in their eyes when they saw me. I’ve been away lots of times before with my job but this time was different for them because in their eyes it has been a much more dangerous journey. The first thing I told them was, ‘I’m all in one piece, I’m really well and I’m happy to be here.' »
The crew of Cape Breton Island, who won Race 5, arrived to loud cheers from the visiting Cape Breton Island delegation and were presented with the Uniquely Singapore Trophy by Dr Lee. Skipper Jan Ridd said, « Arriving in Marina at Keppel Bay has been one of the best welcomes we have had so far, especially coming in in first place – it really could not have been better. Once I got hold of that yellow pennant, it made the win seem very real. »
The Cape Breton Island delegation will host a reception for business contacts at the Canadian Ambassador’s residence during the stopover. Pride of place on the menu will go to Atlantic lobster.
Spirit of Australia and Jamaica Lightning Bolt were awarded their second and third place pennants and all the crews were presented with small trophies, including Cork, Ireland, whose yacht ran aground when they hit a submerged reef.
Dr Lee said, « It was heartening to know that a number of teams, including Uniquely Singapore, put competition aside to come to the aid of Cork. This truly projects the message of friendship, goodwill and sportsmanship, reflecting strongly what the Clipper Race is all about. »
All nine of the Clipper yachts flew an Irish flag today to show their support for Cork‘s crew.
Welcoming the fleet to the marina, Dr Lee said, « With the slew of exciting waterfront developments and activities at Keppel Bay, Harbourfront and Sentosa, we expect more international yachtsmen and boaters to be drawn to Singapore. This is where Marina at Keppel Bay, with its premium berths, RYA-accredited sailing academy and variety of services and facilities, will play its part to promote Singapore’s attractiveness as a leading destination and sailing hub in Asia.
« We share the vision with Singapore Tourism Board to showcase the Uniquely Singapore brand to the world and to promote Singapore as a ‘must visit’ global city. »
Ms Aw Kah Peng, Chief Executive of Singapore Tourism Board, Team Partner for Uniquely Singapore, said, « Hosting top tier sporting events such as the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race galvanises Singapore’s vision to be a centre for sporting excellence while bolstering our standing as a compelling destination for major international sporting events
« This year Singapore will be cast into the international spotlight once again when it hosts the inaugural Youth Olympic Games and the third instalment of the Formula One race. These events collectively showcase our city as a vibrant city to live, work and play in, and strengthen our image as an appealing lifestyle destination. We look forward to creating unique and authentic experiences for all visitors. »
Clipper Race founder and chairman, Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, the first man to sail solo non-stop around the world, said, « This is the third time there has been a Uniquely Singapore entry in the Clipper Race and each time the arrival ceremony is more staggering.
« We will be based here for just over a week, which will give the crew members a chance to work on their boats and prepare for the gruelling sail up to Qingdao.
« I am also pleased to say that we will be joined this week by a number of our other sponsors who have come to Singapore to establish and develop business relationships around the stopover, including representatives from Canada’s Cape Breton Island, our Scottish entry, Edinburgh Inspiring Capital, English regional tourist board, Welcome to Yorkshire, Ireland’s Cork, as well as one of my personal favourites… Benromach. »
Race 6 to Qingdao, China, will begin on Tuesday 2 February.