Southampton has secured the start of The Global Ocean Race 2014, an internationally renowned ocean racing challenge, and one of the world’s most difficult yacht races.
It is excellent news for the city, having recently failed in its joint bid with Portsmouth to become the UK City of Culture in 2017 .
The race covers 30,000 miles and travels through the planet’s toughest oceans. It is also the only round-the-world race crewed by solo, double-handed or four-handed crews.
It will start from the PSP Southampton Boat Show next September, with the fleet of Class 40 yachts moored in the show’s purpose built marina for 10 days, giving visitors a unique close up view as teams prepare. Crews will set sail from Southampton on September 21; the race ends eight months later at Gunwharf Quays in Portsmouth, with stopovers in Africa, Australasia, North and South America.
Matt Tucker, Southampton City Council cabinet member for economic development and leisure services, said: “We are delighted that the city is going to host the start of this prestigious sailing challenge in 2014. It confirms Southampton as a major venue for ocean racing challenges. If residents are unable to visit the Boat Show they will still be able to watch yachts sail up Southampton Water towards the race start, from viewpoints such as Weston Shore and Royal Victoria Country Park.”
Added Josh Hall, Global Ocean Race founder and race director: “The Solent is the true home of round the world racing and we are extremely proud to bring our event where it belongs. The full support and assistance of Southampton City Council, National Boat Shows and PSP Logistics has permitted the fleet to be hosted within the PSP Southampton Boat Show, giving people the opportunity to visit the boats and meet our inspirational sailors.
“We have long-term plans to keep the same arrangements for future editions of the race and are committed to giving the region a global event they can all share in and be proud of.”
Organisers of the UK City of Culture in 2017 questioned the logic of a joint Southampton-Portsmouth bid. Official feedback said combined events would be well-resourced, but the ‘logic and added value’ of a joint application was not clear.
The Solent cities failed to make the shortlist of four - Swansea Bay, Dundee, Hull and Leicester – having submitted a bid which focused on their maritime heritage, arts and music connections.
Organisers' feedback said the Solent bid had been ‘well supported’ by both local authorities with some ‘strong ideas’ based on the international port connections which both enjoy, but it also said proposed events ‘lacked distinctiveness’ and there was a slight risk of two councils leading to complexities in delivering events because there was little track record of the two cities working together in the cultural field.
The two councils commented: "We felt it was important to go for the City of Culture title as both cities have so much to offer. If we had won the benefits would have been huge, so we had to give it a try. Given that our cities have so much in common, we are hopeful that further opportunities to co-operate will arise in the future."