The Clipper Race has revealed Portsmouth will be the location for the Race Start and Finish of its 2023-24 edition. Five days of festivities, beginning 30 August 2023, are planned for Gunwharf Quays, the neighbouring harbour of the sailing company’s operations for almost 20 years.

The only event which trains people from all walks of life to become ocean racers, the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race will see its fleet depart from Gunwharf Quays on 3 September. A Solent spectacular is planned for Clipper Race crew as they commence the 40,000 nautical miles circumnavigation, a feat that will take eleven months to complete.

Gunwharf Quays has partnered with the Clipper Race, becoming its Race Start and Finish Host Port, with civic support from Portsmouth City Council. This is only the second time that Portsmouth has featured on the Clipper Race route (the last time was in 2000) and the upcoming event will see the first on the water, public participation Race Start event since 2017 in Liverpool.

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Image: Gunwharf Quays Portsmouth and the Spinnaker Tower

This summer’s family friendly week of events is expected to attract large numbers of visitors from both in and out of the city, making a significant positive boost to the local economy. When Liverpool hosted the Clipper 2017-18 Race Start, 220,000 spectators visited the Race Village at its Royal Albert Docks, with the projected economic impact of visitors directly attributed to the Race Start an estimated £7.5 million. During this event, 31% of total visitors came from elsewhere in the UK and 10% from overseas.

In collaboration with Gunwharf Quays and the wider Portsmouth city, the adventure business is hoping to make this the biggest launch event in its history. Local sailing clubs, organisations and boat owners are being invited to join the bon voyage flotilla out on the Solent. This stage of the event will wave off the hundreds of sailors who will face the intense conditions of six ocean crossings. Tickets for spectator boats will be available to buy in advance of the event, offering a chance to get out on the water and up close to the action, when the race starts mid afternoon on 3 September.

Says Laura Ayres, Clipper Ventures Managing Director: “Portsmouth is our neighbour and the Solent the honorary home of our international Race Crew when they come to our training base. This is the first time in over 20 years that we have held our Race Start and Finish in Portsmouth. By partnering with Gunwharf Quays, we can create five days of celebration fitting of the incredible challenge our courageous crew are setting out to achieve.

“We know the welcoming and great waterfront city of Portsmouth puts on a great party and our event will be the perfect way for our local community and visitors to end the summer holidays.”

The Clipper Race Start Festival will open to the public on 30 August. Its event programme has been developed to involve and inspire the community. And with participants of the global sailing race hailing from 68 countries, this will be an international event filled with live music and food. The event will also engage with local community groups with educational activities being planned from 30 August to 1 September.

At the heart of the festival will be the opportunity to meet some of the 700 Race Crew who have trained to take part in this challenge and hear the inspiring stories from past crew. There will also be the opportunity to get on board a Clipper 70 – an ocean racing yacht which will be home to the sailors for up to a month at a time. Visitors can also experience a motor tour on a Clipper Race Training yacht which locals will recognise as a frequent sight on the Solent throughout the year.

Yvonne Clay, Centre Director, Gunwharf Quays said: “This is a fantastic opportunity for Portsmouth and we are thrilled to be the host for this year’s start and the 2024 finish for the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race. We are looking forward to welcoming the Race Crew and their supporters to our centre and for them to experience all that we have to offer. From restaurants, bars and cafes, to our retail outlets, we know that our businesses will help to create a memorable visitor experience for all. Gunwharf Quays has a vital role in supporting the growth of the city’s wider visitor economy, and we are proud to support Portsmouth by increasing the city’s profile and delivering positive economic impact to the area.

Councillor Steve Pitt, Leader of Portsmouth City Council said: “We are pleased to support Gunwharf Quays in hosting the 2023-24 edition of the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race. Portsmouth is the perfect venue with a track record of hosting major events like the America’s Cup World Series, and strong links to the maritime and marine sector.

“Portsmouth is home to the Royal Navy, a key part of the Solent Freeport, and a growing cruise destination, the city offers the perfect backdrop. The event will bring great value for the city including a boost to our visitor economy and we look forward to welcoming the hundreds of Race Crew, their families and the team from the Clipper Race to Portsmouth.”

The full Clipper Race Start Festival programme will launch during the summer, along with the chance to book a place on one of the spectator boats that will get up close to the action. Keep an eye out for a showcase evening event too.

Follow @clipperrace on Instagram or @clipperroundtheworld on Facebook for all the up to the minute event information.

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