Clipper 2011-12 will be the eighth edition of the biennial event and at 40,000 miles it is the world’s longest sailing race. The race start is on Sunday 31st July from the historic maritime city of Southampton on the south coast of England.
The race will take the ten identical 68-foot ocean racing yachts almost a year to complete their circumnavigation of the globe.
Southampton City Council and MDL Marinas, owner of Ocean Village Marina where the yachts will be berthed, are working in partnership to host the Clipper 2011-12 race start. It will be an atmospheric, colourful affair as crews bid an emotional farewell to family and friends at a shore-based ceremony before a stunning parade of sail by the yachts as they head to the start line.
It is the first time since 2004 that a round the world yacht race has started from the iconic sailing grounds of the Solent and promises to provide a breath taking spectacle for spectators both on the water and watching from the shore.
Southampton will be the fifth UK venue to host the race start. The Clipper Race celebrates its 15th anniversary this year and first set off from Plymouth in 1996. Two editions later the fleet started from Portsmouth before moving to Liverpool for the subsequent three races and then to the Humber on the UK’s north east coast.
As the official host port for the race start Southampton can expect a significant economic return from the tens of thousands of visitors expected to visit the city over the four days the fleet will be in Southampton, delivering millions of pounds worth of revenue for local businesses.
This will be the eighth edition of this unique event which is ‘raced by people like you’. More than 500 people from all walks of life and representing more than 40 nationalities will take part. Around 40 per cent of them had never set foot on a boat before beginning the compulsory pre-race training to prepare them for the gruelling challenge of racing across the world’s fiercest oceans.
The race was created by British sailing legend, Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, the first man to sail solo and non-stop around the world. Since the first edition in 1996 almost 3,000 people have taken advantage of the opportunity to race across oceans in a challenge unlike any other.
Sir Robin says, 'Fewer people have raced around the world than have climbed Mount Everest; it remains one of life’s great challenges and experiences. Over the last 15 years we have discovered the power of the race to change not only the lives of our crews, but we have also seen it transform perceptions and prospects for the participating global cities, regions and countries.
'The Clipper Race creates a powerful platform at ports of call around the world where our destination sponsors and their partners can network together to develop international trade, promote tourism and celebrate culture.'
Each of the ten yachts is sponsored by a city, state, country or company who leverage their participation with trade, tourism and cultural programmes, building on successful pilot initiatives which have seen deals done, trade agreements signed, tourism enquiries generated, universities promoted, knowledge exchanged, cultures shared and powerful economic impact generated on top of extensive international media attention. Clipper 09-10 was seen by a cumulative global audience of more than half a billion people.
Sir Robin adds, 'I am particularly pleased that Southampton is to host the start of Clipper 2011-12 and that for the first time in many years the very active sailing community in the Solent will be able to be part of a round the world yacht race.'
Councillor Royston Smith, Leader of the Council, said, 'Southampton City Council is proud to be supporting this race. This internationally renowned event will attract tens of thousands of people of all nationalities to Southampton, generating millions of pounds for the local economy. This is a fantastic opportunity to showcase all that Southampton has to offer to an international audience. Southampton’s reputation as a destination of choice is growing, and events like this will only enhance that reputation further. We are also a centre of maritime and marine innovation – a fitting location for the start of this race.'
In the build up to the start of the race the fleet will be based in Ocean Village, Southampton, and high profile events for international delegations to the event will also be held in the city.
Dean Smith, Marketing Director at MDL Marinas, commented, 'We are delighted that Ocean Village Marina has been selected as the official host port for this phenomenal race and are really looking forward to bringing together thousands of people to celebrate the landmark event. It really is great that this year’s race will start from the renowned boating haven of Southampton, which is synonymous with ocean racing, with Ocean Village playing host to round the world races starts and finishes for the likes of Whitbread and Challenge, as well as arrivals from Ellen MacArthur and Dee Caffari. The whole team at MDL is looking forward to looking after the fleet at the marina before cheering them on as they set sail on 31 July.'
Already confirmed for Clipper 2011-12 are the Keppel Corporation-sponsored Singapore and, representing China’s Olympic sailing city, Qingdao, both entering the race for the fourth time. Qingdao is twinned with Southampton. Returning for their second appearance are Visit Finland, backed by the Finnish Tourist Board, and the Scottish entry, Edinburgh Inspiring Capital. And, making their debut in the race, are Derry-Londonderry, celebrating their status as UK City of Culture 2013, and De Lage Landen, the global provider of asset-based financing programmes, which will race under the Dutch flag. The names of the remaining four yachts will be revealed in the coming weeks ahead of the race start.
The international fleet will visit 14 ports on six continents during the 12-month race. Starting from Southampton the route takes them to Madeira, Rio de Janeiro, Cape Town, the west and east coasts of Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Qingdao, California, New York, Nova Scotia, Derry-Londonderry and the Netherlands before returning to the south coast on 22 July 2012.
A few places are still available for people wishing to take part in Clipper 11-12 and berths are now released for Clipper 13-14 and beyond. Participants must be 18 years old and over and there is no upper age limit. No sailing experience is required. Clipper Round The World website