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24 May 2011, 12:29 | Updated: 24 May 2011, 12:32
It's been announced The Clipper 11-12 Round the World Yacht Race will start from Southampton on Sunday 31 July 2011.
At 40,000 miles the event is the world’s longest sailing race and 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 11-12 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 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 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.
Already confirmed for Clipper 11-12 are the Keppel Corporation-sponsored Singapore and, representing China’s Olympic sailing city, Qingdao, both entering the race for the fourth time. Qingdao is Southampton’s twin city in China. 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.