Ready, steady, Clipper!
The biennial Clipper Round the World Yacht Race will start at 1500 BST on Sunday 16 September from Liverpool, the European Capital of Culture 2008. The ten yachts will race between 14 ports on five continents before returning to Liverpool on 5 July next year.
This Sunday the fleet will line up on the River Mersey for the start of Race 1 of Clipper 07-08 from Liverpool to La Rochelle. The 610-mile race will take approximately three days with the fleet due to arrive on Wednesday 19 September. The arrival of the fleet will coincide with the start of the Grand Pavois, Europe’s largest boat show, and will mark the first time the Clipper Race has visited France.
With last minute preparations and provisioning underway at Liverpool’s Albert Dock where the fleet is berthed, the excitement is building ahead of what is set to be an impressive send off for the international race yachts. With crowds set to line the banks of the Mersey, a fly past by the Yakolevs and a formation sail past led by the tall ship Mercedes and accompanied by the Royal Navy, the send off from this world-renowned port is set to provide a memorable spectacle.
Each of the ten boats taking part will act as a floating billboard around the world for its city sponsor. The international line up competing in Clipper 07-08 includes Liverpool 08, Durban 2010, westernaustralia2011.com, Hull & Humber, Uniquely Singapore, Qingdao, Glasgow: Scotland with style Clipper, Jamaica and New York. The final yacht will be named at a special ceremony on at 1400 BST on Friday 14 September at Albert Dock.
The crew members representing Western Australia on westernaustralia2011.com are competing to defend their title as champions after sailing to victory in Clipper 05-06. But with nine other boats keen to claim the title, the competition is set to be fierce.
With 27 nationalities represented amongst the 400 race crew, and 13 different nations sailing on Uniquely Singapore alone, Clipper 07-08 will be a truly global event. Up to 17 crew members from varying backgrounds sail on each yacht at any one time and they all put their everyday lives on hold for up to ten months to take part in the Clipper Race.
The crews have spent the last months preparing for the race ahead and prior to signing up around 40 percent had no previous sailing experience. Each one of them has completed comprehensive Clipper Training overseen by Clipper Chairman and legendary solo sailor Sir Robin Knox-Johnston.
Speaking ahead of the start of Clipper 07-08, Sir Robin said: "There is something special about the people that sign up to take part in the Clipper Race. What unites the crew who will set sail this Sunday is their desire to experience something outside the limitations of their everyday lives. A great adventure lies ahead for every single one of them. They will return to Liverpool’s Albert Dock in ten months time as accomplished sailors with memories they will carry with them for the rest of their lives.
"I’m looking forward to being in Liverpool this weekend to see off the ten crews competing in our sixth Clipper Round the World Yacht Race – I am sure the people of Liverpool will give them a great send off as they head off from the Mersey after months of preparations," he added.
Ben Galloway, skipper of Liverpool 08, said: "It’s great to be here in our home port for the final race preparations and we’ve had great support from the people of Liverpool since we arrived on Saturday. We’ve still got some last minute jobs to do before we leave Albert Dock on Sunday but the crew of Liverpool 08 is raring to go and get out there racing."
For more information on the race see: http://www.clipperroundtheworld.com/