The Hong Kong stopover is one of the biggest changeover ports of the race; not only are we losing 'leggers' but we are also losing many crew who have been with us since the race start in Liverpool and who have sailed round half of the world with Clipper .
Yesterday saw the first day for many of the new joining crew. The morning saw everyone meet up for a two day training sail to Shelter Cove, a smaller satellite Club belonging to the Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club.
As the new recruits tentatively reacquainted themselves with the joys of the galley and those headsail hanks that they will grow to love, some faces were a little nervous. For some it has been nearly six months since they even saw their boats!
This had all changed however, as the crews met up for a fleet barbeque last night. Faces were glowing after one of the best day's weather we have had here in Hong Kong had taken affect on the new English skins! Once more, talk buzzed the club of sail changes, trim and the months ahead.
Back in the boat yard of the Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club all of the Clipper yachts are now back in the water and as crew return relaxed and (almost) recuperated from their breaks away in various countries of the world, the fleet is getting ready for the off once more.
The RHKYC is itself gearing up for a high level of participation for this year's biennial San Fernando Race. Considered one of Asia's classic offshore races, the 480nm race heralds the start of the fourth crew leg of Clipper 2002 and will get underway on Thursday, 17 April. These last few days will see many of the other competing boats being hauled out and sprayed down in preparation for the race. Every detail checked and checked again.
Winds are often strong as the fleet departs Hong Kong and sails across the South China Sea, but when the yachts reach the Luzon coast, the lighter winds call for tactical spinnaker flying as they near the finish line at the small resort town of San Fernando on the north-western Philippine Coast.
But that all lays ahead for the Clipper crews. For now, the crews are coming back 'home' and preparing for a busy two days of stowing food and sails. And of course they are still basking in the fantastically warm hospitality of the RHKYC, despite the return of the drizzle outside!