The UK capital is counting down to the biggest pageant on the River Thames since the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee to mark the start of the Clipper 2013-14 Round the World Yacht Race.
On Sunday 1 September, the fleet of twelve 70-ft ocean racing yachts and a supporting flotilla of support vessels, spectator boats and well-wishers, will participate in a spectacular parade of sails from Tower Bridge before setting off on their 40,000 mile ocean odyssey.
The armada will be joined by a paddleship steamer, pilot boats, police boats, RIBs, spectator boats and other pleasure craft as Britain waves off the 270 crew sailing from London to Rio de Janeiro on Leg 1.
Hosting the race start and finish is estimated to deliver a £50 million economic boost to the capital and is the first time London has hosted the Clipper Race; it is 40 years since the Thames last featured a round the world sailing event.
Legendary British sailor, Clipper Race Founder and Chairman, Sir Robin Knox-Johnston said: 'The Clipper Round the World Yacht Race is a real jewel in the crown of international sailing, the only race in the world that takes every-day people and turns them into ocean racers.
'We hope Londoners will join in the spirit again after last year’s wonderful Thames celebrations and support this world class British event by coming down and sending off these courageous adventurers on their epic voyage of discovery.'
Mayor of London, Boris Johnson recently welcomed news that the capital was to host the Clipper Race. He said: 'Playing host to the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race will once again see London showcasing why it is the best big city on earth in which to hold major sporting events. It’s a fantastic honour for the capital to mark the beginning and end of this feat of human endeavour, which will not only provide an awesome spectacle for hordes of sailing fans, but also give a huge boost to the wider London economy.
'Those who take part are an inspiration to us all and exhibit the very best of the human spirit. As they battle through everything the elements can throw at them, I wish everyone on board these stunning vessels the very best of luck.'
The boats are currently moored in the historic St Katharine Docks, central London’s only marina, with an official Race Village hosting entertainment and visitors who can see the yachts up close and get an insight into crew life at sea.
The fleet will not be returning until July 2014 after 670 crew race 40,000 miles and visit 16 ports on six continents, in the world’s longest ocean race.
Designed to provide everyone, regardless of sailing history, the chance to experience the exhilaration of circumnavigation, the Clipper Race has turned over 3,500 novices into ocean racers since its inception in 1995.
Everyone from teachers to sports stars, professionals, lorry drivers, nurses, film directors and more team together to take on the world’s toughest sailing conditions. Skippered by professional yachtsman, each team will battle to complete eight different legs over eleven months, all vying for the overall top prize.
The first leg of the Clipper Race ends in Marina da Gloria, Rio de Janeiro, the destination for the 2016 Olympic sailing events. They then continue on via South Africa, Western Australia, Sydney (including the world famous Sydney-Hobart Race), Singapore, China, San Francisco, Panama, Jamaica, New York, Derry Londonderry and the Netherlands before returning to London’s St Katharine Docks for Race Finish in July 2014.
by Julia Wall Clarke
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12:03 PM Mon 26 Aug 2013GMT
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