A PRESTIGIOUS round-the-world sailing race has moved into Gosport, bringing jobs and money to the town.
The Global Ocean Race 2014-15 is now based at Haslar Marina, where its staff will track the crews across the world in the 30,200-mile race from September next year.
And as momentum builds for the race, its director Josh Hall hopes to employ local people to run the office during the competition.
As previously reported in The News, Mr Hall announced that the race, in its third edition, will finish in Gunwharf Quays in 2015, after starting in Southampton in September next year.
Mr Hall said: ‘We wanted very much to involve Gosport with this project as well.
‘The facilities are second to none for the marine industry. I don’t think people realise just how important the marine industry is to Gosport and the area.
‘In our way we can help promote it – they really are of a global first class standard.’
Staff will be based in the town, tracking the progress of each of the competitors and co-ordinating with local coastguards across the globe.
Other GOR staff will visit the four stopovers in Cape Town, South Africa, Auckland, in New Zealand, Punta del Este, in Uruguay and lastly Charleston, in America.
Graham Burgess, deputy leader of the borough council, said he welcomed the move as it will boost the town’s reputation.
‘People used to think Cowes is the home of offshore racing but we are rapidly overtaking,’he said.
‘It is a real boost for the area and we hope this is the start of a growing partnership. Gosport is becoming the UK mecca for offshore racing.’’
Ben Lippiett, manager at Haslar Marina, said he is delighted GOR has signed a five-year lease.
He said: ‘We’ve already got Alex Thomson here, who obviously came third in the Vendee Globe and Brian Thompson is running a sailing academy here.
‘It completes a group that are quite synonymous with global ocean racing.
‘There’s a great deal of interest in the race as numbers increase all the time, it really helps to put us on the map.
‘There’s a drive in Gosport at the moment to bring everything together because it’s possibly been a possibly bit disjointed.’
With Clipper Round the World Yacht Race and Alex Thomson, the town already has a name for itself for ocean racing.
And David Thomson, 37, of Gosport, brother of Alex, will be competing again in GOR after taking part in the 2008-09 edition.
He is working on the Caterham Challenge entry, run by the Caterham Formula One racing team, but hopes to have his own entry.
‘Ideally the way I’d like to do it is on my own project, so I need to find the funding,’ he said.
‘I’ve been sailing all my life – it’s the ultimate goal to sail round the world.
‘It’s a chance to go back and do it properly and try and get a result as I know I’ve got the ability.’
ANNOUNCEMENT COMES AS COMMUNITY PUSHES ITS ‘MARINE SCENE’
THE news that the next year’s Global Ocean Race will have its headquarters in Gosport could not have come at a better time.
Many marine businesses have already been getting together to work out how to promote Gosport as a marine town.
Just last Thursday, Gosport Marine Scene met to brainstorm for a future plan and funding bids.
As reported, the group, made up of marine businesses and event planners, held its inaugural meeting back in November, chaired by Gosport’s MP Caroline Dinenage.
It is run by Abby Thomson, who said she and a steering group are working on attracting funding and are planning future events in the town.
Attendees raised the need for a hotel, with two already on their way at a £15m development in Mumby Road and in Gosport Leisure Park.