THE start of a prestigious powerboat race off Southend will help attract more business, according to traders.

The inaugural Venture Cup runs from London to Monte Carlo via Bournemouth, the Channel Islands, Barcelona, Majorca and St Tropez – but officially starts from Southend Pier.

As well as the powerboats, there will be events for crowds to enjoy.

The race will be a major part of this year’s Southend Martime Festival, which has been given a £100,000 funding boost from the Government.

Last year saw boats depart from Southend on a prologue race, with stops at Bournemouth and the Channel Islands.

Paul Thompson, chairman of Southend Seafront Traders’ Association, said: “It is really good news. Last year, you got to see lots of powerful boats you wouldn’t otherwise get the chance to, and there was quite a big crowd there, too.

“Hopefully, it is an event that will continue to be held here and continue putting Southend on the map as a tourist destination, which can only be good for businesses.”

Colin Gray, director of Rossi Ice Cream, added: “It is good to see Southend is encouraging and supporting big international events, such as this. It can only be good for the town.”

The 2,750-mile Venture Cup starts in London at 9am on Saturday, June 7, but racing will not begin in earnest until the 50 boats line up at the end of the pier at around 10am and set off for their first stop in the Channel Islands.

Derek Jarvis, Southend councillor responsible for tourism, said: “We are delighted the official start of the prestigious international race will be in Southend.

“This is just one of the thrilling waterborne events forming part of the festival.”

Other festival events include a speed sailing weekend in May, the Leigh Maritime Festival and a round of the British Powerboat Championships in July, plus the annual Thames sailing barge race in August.