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See world yacht race start in Southend
12:30pm Sunday 1st September 2013 in Echo News
A PRESTIGIOUS round-the-world yacht race will officially start off the Southend coast on Monday.
Some 270 crew members from the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race are already in London and will be involved in a procession down the Thames from St Katharine Docks, London, on Sunday.
On Monday, a fleet of ocean racing yachts will line up, using Southend Pier as a marker, to start the race. Sir Robin Knox Johnson, founder and chairman of the Clipper race and an honorary member of Benfleet Yacht Club, was the first man to sail solo around the world nonstop, from 1968-1969.
He said: “The Clipper race is a real jewel in the crown of international sailing, the only race in the world that takes everyday people and turns them into ocean racers.”
Benfleet Yacht Club race officer, Sue Hancock, will signal the start of the race with two cannons at the end of the pier, between 9am and 9.30am. The cannons will fire in a sequence, ten minutes, five minutes, and one minute before the start, before the cannons fire once more to signal the off.
It is not yet known how close to the pier the impressive yachts will get. Organisers say weather conditions will determine that.
However, they are confident spectators will be able to see the yachts from the seafront. The pier will be open from 8.15am.
The Clipper race encourages people from all walks of life to team up and take on the world’s toughest sailing conditions. In doing so, it has turned 3,500 novices into ocean racers.
Each team, headed by a professional yachtsman, will battle to complete eight legs over the next 11 months, until they return to St Katharine Docks in July 2014.
The first leg has a stopover at Brest, France, before crew members head to Rio de Janeiro in Brazil. This is the only race in the world where organisers supply the fleet of 12 identical, 70-foot, stripped down racing yachts – each sponsored by a city,a region or a country–and man each with a fully-qualified skipper to lead the crews around the globe.
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