On February 17, for the first time in its 20-year history, the world famous Clipper Round the World Race arrived in Danang. Sailing and racing around the world for 11 months, the 12 identical 70-foot yachts completed a four week journey from Australia to Vietnam. Next stop is Qingdao, China before heading eastward to Seattle and beyond.
Founder and sailing legend Sir Robin Knox-Johnston compares this marathon event to climbing Mount Everest. It’s the pinnacle of sailing adventures and the longest yacht race in the world. The crews are mostly novices and the skippers are the only professional sailors onboard.
From Halong Bay to Danang, Nha Trang, Vung Tau, Phu Quoc and more, the doors are now slowly opening to this multi-million dollar commercial and recreational industry. Danang has been the first in Vietnam to embrace this iconic international sporting and media event. The sport of sailing and the related industries of boat building, luxury boat charters and marinas are well established in the region. Nearby in Thailand, Singapore, Hong Kong and Taiwan, this lucrative and competitive commercial sector is booming.
Now it’s Vietnam’s turn. As the middle-class becomes more affluent, so does the interest in importing luxury motorboats and brand name sailing vessels. Currently on the Saigon River small berthing facilities are being developed with international brands starting to appear. The locally-based Focus Investment Group have built a 300m break-water along Pham Van Dong, Vinh Hoa Ward, Nha Trang. The Ana Marina development has been approved for 300 berths.
The significance of the Clipper Race 2016 stop-over means that Vietnam is now on the global sailing map of destinations to visit. Organizers are hopeful that a repeat performance will take place when the next race starts again from London in 2017-2018.
IMAGES BY BARRY J ATKINSON