LIVERPOOL, Aug. 20 (Xinhua) -- Tens of thousands of people lined the waterfront in the seaport city of Liverpool Sunday to watch the start of one of the greatest sea adventures.
The Round-the-World clipper race saw the 12 competing yachts head off into the Irish Sea on the first leg of an exciting race that will return to the city in a year's time to reach the finishing line.
Only a handful of the crew members are professional sailors, with most of those on board amateur boating people or complete novices.
It is the only global sea race in the world to allow inexperienced sailors to take part in.
For newcomers to the ocean waves there was a sense of nerves and excitement as each of the 12.2-meter long sailing vessels raced off as the sound of a pyrotechnic canon gun signalled the start.
On board China's entry in the race, the Qingdao, German skipper Chris Kobusch said his crew were shipshape and ready for the challenge.
The stunning red-colored clipper, decorated with a golden dragon, stood out in the line-up. Kobusch has described how the color of the Qingdao symbolizes the "passion, courage, bravery and persistence in Chinese culture" .
Kobusch, who will head the crew for the duration of the race, said one of his big hopes was to see the Qingdao crew on the podium when it reaches its home port of Qingdao next March.
"This race is one of the world's greatest sea adventures, and for many sailors it is definitely one of the things on their bucket list. For some it is the thrill of circumventing the globe by sea, for others it is to experience sailing in the southern hemisphere. The great thing is that the crews are made up of experienced sailors and people who have never sailed before.
"Around 40 percent of the crew on the Qingdao are complete novices, none have been at sea previously. For them this will be quite memorable."
Taking part in the first leg of the race from Liverpool to Uruguay is 21 years old experienced sailor, Zheng Yi, born in Qingdao and still a resident of China's famous sailing city.
"I have been on races in the past but this will be my biggest race and my biggest adventure," said Zheng Yi, a newcomer to the world race.
Harbin-born Liu Jingqiu, who works as an international exporter and lives in Qingdao, told Xinhua: "I am looking forward to what is a great adventure. For my whole life this will be memorable.
"Living on such a small boat, and sharing this small space with so many people as we cross the ocean will be interesting. I am looking forward to this so much," said 37-years-old," This will be a big experience for me."
In the race's program material, Ji Gaoshang, Director General of Qingdao Municipal Bureau of Sports, Secretary General of Qingdao Major Sailing Events (Festivals) Organizing Committee, describes how the Qingdao yacht and her Chinese crew will publicise the Sailing City of Qingdao and traditional Chinese culture in all the host ports globally.
"This has strengthened the sport and culture exchanges, and friendships between Qingdao and the cities, regions and countries along the Clipper Race route. In the future, we hope more people will join in the race to realise their sailing dreams, and be Qingdao Ambassadors to make Qingdao known to the world," added Ji Gaoshang.
The race will finish in Liverpool next July after an incredible journey spanning more than 75,000 kilometers during which the 12 yachts will cover six oceans.