Contenders in the 2015-16 Clipper Round the World Yacht Race reached the central Vietnamese city of Da Nang on Wednesday as part of their race through 17 destinations around the globe.
The Derry Londonderry Doire from Northern Ireland was the first team that made it through the Da Nang - New Discovery of Asia Race, the 5th leg from Queensland, Australia, to the Southeast Asian city after 27 days.
The crew received a rapturous welcome from local authorities and thousands of residents who flocked to the Han River port to see them.
"It's absolutely fantastic to get here,” the race’s official website quoted Skipper Daniel Smith as saying. “I think this is the best reception we have had so far on the race.”
“There were drummers, music, loads of cameras, and everyone is really pleased to see us, so I'm really happy right now,” Smith added.
The first and second runner-ups coming to Da Nang were Garmin and GREAT Britain.
City officials said they have been ready for a series of activities including festivals, kayak racing, traditional art performances and local cuisine events to serve the Clipper Race crews and tourists.
A highlight of the reception which the Vietnamese city has prepared for the teams is a water and fire performance on the city’s iconic Dragon Bridge to welcome a parade of all teams on February 25.
The Clipper Round the World Yacht Race is the biggest challenge of the natural world and an endurance test, according to the organizers.
With no previous sailing experience necessary, it is a record breaking 40,000 nautical mile race around the world on a 70-foot ocean racing yacht in nearly one year.
This year, the race which kicked off last August and is expected to conclude in July this year attracts 12 teams representing 12 countries.
Among the participating yachts is the Da Nang-Vietnam team with 58 crew members, aged 18 to 66, of 12 nationalities, including one from Da Nang.
Nguyen Tran Minh An, the Vietnamese member aboard the yacht, is the first Vietnamese who has ever joined the international challenging race.
Speaking to the press after reaching his homeland, An, who was welcomed by his family at the port, expressed his happiness and pride as he joined his international teammates in bringing the Da Nang yacht home on time.
“The toughest route might be that from Australia to Da Nang because all the 12 teams had to face severe seasonal winds,” An said.