Sailing Around the World

The Clipper 09-10 Round the World Yacht Race started today

More than 100,000 people lined the banks of the Humber to watch the start of the Clipper 09-10 Round the World Yacht Race today. As the cannon fired, the ten internationally sponsored yachts crossed the start line at 1400 BST (1300 GMT) to the roar of the crowds at the beginning of their 35,000-mile challenge.

Edinburgh Inspiring Capital led the charge across the line, followed by the Irish entry, Cork, and Spirit of Australia. The first race takes the fleet from the east coast of the UK to La Rochelle, France. The northerly breeze at the start and the weather conditions forecast for the next few days indicate that the 780-mile race will be a fast one.

By the time the fleet had rounded the second mark Cork had overtaken the Scottish boat, Team Finland had moved up from sixth place to second and Edinburgh Inspiring Capital had dropped back to third.

Before the race start the RAF areobatic team, the Red Arrows, gave a display of precision flying, Hawk jets flying just two metres apart during some of the formations. On the ground the Band of the Royal Marines played as the home team, Hull & Humber, left Hull Marina to join the rest of the fleet on the river.

The Clipper Race is the only race in the world where the crews come from all walks of life, all ages and with all levels of experience. Prior to their training, some 40 percent of the crews had never stepped aboard a sailing yacht before. Race start day was an emotional experience for the crew and their families and friends who had come to support them on their challenge of a lifetime.

Ahead lies a ten-month-long, 35,000-mile course that will take the race to France before crossing to Brazil, South Africa, Australia, Singapore, China, California, Panama, Jamaica, New York, Cape Breton Island, Cork and the Netherlands. The race will make its triumphant return to the Humber on 17 July 2010.

The Clipper Race is the brainchild of yachtsman Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, the first man to sail non-stop single handed around the world. He wanted to open the sport of long distance sailing to all and allow others to experience the challenges of ocean racing.

“The reception on the Humber has been simply fantastic,” said Sir Robin. “The enthusiasm from the city, and, most especially, from the people has been incredible. It is wonderful to see the interest they are taking in ordinary people going out to do something quite extraordinary.”

More than 400 crews have signed up for Clipper 09-10. Some will complete a full circumnavigation while others will race one or a combination of the seven legs available.

Each Clipper yacht is entered by a city, region or country and sponsors use the event to showcase themselves to the world. On the last running of the Clipper Race, more than 212 million people worldwide followed the adventure through television, print media, radio and online.