40,000-mile race begins with free weekend spectacular

The Clipper 11-12 Round the World Yacht Race begins from the South Coast port of Southampton on Sunday 31 July – and the city is having a party to mark the return of global ocean racing to the Solent after a gap of seven years.

Ocean Village Marina has built a ‘race village’ where three days of free entertainment begins at 5.30 this evening. Big-name band Toploader heads the many music acts taking to the stage, while street entertainers and an array of food and drink line the quay.

The fleet of ten 20.7m (68ft) masthead cutters, refitted racing yachts designed to be strong but light and fast, arrived yesterday to begin last-minute preparations for the 12-month, 40,000-mile longest boat race in the world.

The yachts, while identical, each bear the livery of their sponsor city or company, and 40% of the nearly 500 international crew members had no sailing experience prior to signing up.

The Royal Navy helicopter carrier HMS Illustrious arrives tomorrow ready for Sunday’s lunchtime send-off, when a flotilla of spectator boats making up the ‘parade of sails’ will accompany the fleet to its departure point of the Royal Yacht Squadron line.

Boat owners are welcome to participate in the flotilla and ferries will be on hand to take the public for out a waterborne view of what should be a spectacular event.

Details: www.clipperroundtheworld.com