We visited Vietnam for the first time in 2009 travelling from the Mekong Delta and Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City) in the south to Hanoi and Halong Bay in the north. Along the way we stopped in Da Nang not appreciating the significance of this place seven years later as Steve (husband) now sails around the world on the yacht Da Nang-Viet Nam sponsored by the city. And it has been quite a homecoming for the crew who managed to win the momentous Sydney-Hobart leg, Clipper 70 class in what is the longest yacht race in the world spanning ten countries with twelve 70-foot yachts racing and more than eleven months at sea.
The arrival of Da Nang-Viet Nam into their home port of Da Nang was an extraordinary experience for the crew who were welcomed like celebrities. They were immediately fitted by local tailors for traditional Vietnamese dress – red for women and blue for men – to be worn at the official awards ceremony the following night. [See Gallery]
The awards ceremony was at another level of stardom. I’m sure most of the crew are not likely to experience a red carpet entrance complete with paparazzi again so they certainly made the most of their second moment of glory (after the Sydney-Hobart victory). Clipper and the crew gifted the city of Da Nang a replica of the yacht, a larger version of which was at the entry to the fire-breathing Dragon Bridge under which the entire Clipper fleet paraded one perfect autumn night. [See Video]
As we walked around the city the next morning, we came across endless four-sided pillars featuring the team and Da Nang-Viet Nam (the yacht) as it crossed under the Sydney Harbour Bridge at the start of the Sydney to Hobart yacht race. On my way to the airport at the end of the week, there was a giant billboard of the yacht and crew bearing down on me. Then there were the cameras and screaming girls everywhere they went. Again, not likely to happen again anytime soon.
Then it was over as Da Nang set sail with the rest of the fleet headed for Qingdao, China where the yacht sponsored by Qingdao was no doubt in for a similar welcome and memories to last lifetime as if this crazy adventure itself is not enough.