Record bid is something we can all get behind

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Last night renowned sailor Alan Priddy officially launched his plans at Canary Wharf in London for his Round the World Challenge.

Mr Priddy is planning to circumnavigate the globe in just 53 days – knocking seven days off the current world record of 60 days.

But this is not just about building personal prestige for Mr Priddy. As he has said before: ‘It is all about Portsmouth and all about shipbuilding.’

And to aid him in his bid, he will be building the superboat to achieve this goal in Hayling. After that he intends to secure long-term boatbuilding for Portsmouth.

Along with the recent news that The America’s Cup World Series is coming to the city next year and Sir Ben Ainslie has based his America’s Cup team here, it looks like the year is ending on a high note for the region’s beleaguered maritime industry.

While it is not possible to entirely fill the gaping hole in our city’s life that closing the shipyards left, there is still much here to celebrate.

The sums of money that these initiatives are expected to bring into the area are astronomical.

Of course it is easy to be sceptical about how much of that will trickle down into the local economy and how much will line the wallets of the few.

But what cannot be scoffed at is the generation of new jobs – and they will be skilled jobs, the kind of jobs that we already have people trained for and ready to step into.

Mr Priddy intends his world record attempt as a shop window – an arresting advertisement – for the torpedo boat he hopes to create a long-term future for here in Portsmouth.

Ever since BAE Systems announced more than a year ago that it would be closing its shipbuilding operations in Portsmouth, there has been a lot of talk about what can be done to mitigate against the hundreds of lost jobs.

A variety of schemes have been suggested – some more viable than others – and we are still waiting to hear from the government about who will take over the shipyard.

In the meantime, we can at least enjoy some good news.

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