by Christian Edwards
SYDNEY, Dec. 4 (Xinhua) -- Qingdao, the Chinese entry in the famous Clipper Round the World Yacht Race Tuesday has completed the latest stage of the unique global adventure in the 'Roaring Forties' of the Southern Ocean in a strong position, with 12 races still to go in the global 16-race series.
The Qingdao also became the first team to break the 'barrier' of covering more than 300 nautical miles in a 24 hour period.
Race 5 to Sydney of 'The Clipper' -- the longest around the planet at 40,000 miles -- will start Wednesday in Albany, Western Australia.
After leading the fleet for most of the race Qingdao ran into a high pressure weather system and lost wind which enabled three other boats further south to overtake them, but not before they picked up three bonus points by crossing an extra scoring gate in first place.
Despite arriving fourth into Albany in Western Australia, receiving 9 points, the team has a very strong position overall with 12 extra points in total, making 37 in total, putting the team into third place overall subject to final verification by the Race Office.
This is the best performance by a Qingdao entry in the Clipper Race in five editions putting them in contention for a podium position.
"We thought we could lead all the way but ran into high pressure and lost the wind," confirmed Qingdao Skipper Gareth Glover. "Despite dropping three places in the last leg we're very pleased with our improved position overall. The crew have done a great job in very tough conditions."
The crew featuring a number of Chinese members includes, Vicky Song who aims to become the first Chinese woman to circumnavigate the planet in an ocean race.
Song told Xinhua the oceans turned on competitors during the last leg.
"This was a very difficult race. I have never seen seas as mountainous or winds so strong, " She said from the race via statement.
"The water was white with foam and the spray hit your face very hard in the violent storm force conditions... It was an exhilarating experience."
Race officials also confirmed that on 11 November the Qingdao team became the first to cover more than 300 nautical miles in 24 hours. "We were really moving in strong winds and covered 301.7 nautical miles in 24 hours which has now been confirmed by the race office. We are really pleased to have broken that record first," Glover added.
Race 5 to Sydney will start Wednesday in Albany, Western Australia with a Parade of Sail off Middleton Beach, followed by Race Start in iconic King George Sound.
Eric Holden, skipper of Henri Lloyd, currently top of the leader board, said: "It is a shorter leg than what we are used to so we feel we can push the boat harder and faster, and keep up the pace all the time.
"It will be good warm up training ahead of the Rolex Sydney Hobart Race which will be good.
Holden said the forecast is not the same as storms that dominated Leg 3.
"It looks like there will be high pressure fronts for most of the race, but it will be cold as we go south of Tasmania. We won' t be changing anything about what we have done already, but we certainly won't be relaxing."
As soon as the teams leave Albany they can start to ease the sheets and head east across the Great Australian Bight.
Going south of the rhumb line to get stronger westerly winds may be the fastest option but will add extra miles.
The race rules state the yachts must leave the island of Tasmania to their port side -- meaning the teams head further south and stay in the more reliable winds.
The next stage of the race is an upwind leg against the oceanic current running down the east coast of Australia.
The race then heads for Qingdao via Singapore, arriving in China in early March 2014.