We should be as proud of Clipper as we are of navy
For centuries Portsmouth has proudly sent its young men to sea to serve in the Royal Navy.
It continues to do so, although not in the numbers that once signed up to ‘see the world’. But this city is still the home of the Senior Service and, hopefully, will remain so for many years.
The navy is the very public face of our relatively small island race whose existence and prosperity has depended on its ability to cross the world’s oceans safely... and return home again.
Although those in the modern navy will doubtless have the time of their lives, few will ever experience the adventure had by those who take part in the Clipper Round the World Race.
It is the less-visible face of those seamanship skills but, based at Gosport and with close ties to Portsmouth through its founder, the legendary sailor Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, it is an organisation with which we can also be immensely proud.
Just ask Will Stokely from Southsea what taking part in the race has done for him and the 4,000 people who have taken part in Clipper since the race began in 1996.
It is the only race in the world where the organisers supply a fleet of 12 identical racing yachts, each with a fully qualified skipper to safely guide the crew.
Normally the domain of seasoned pros, this supreme challenge is taken on by ordinary, everyday people.
It is an unparalleled challenge where taxi drivers rub shoulders with chief executives, vicars mix with housewives, students work alongside bankers, and engineers team up with rugby players. The sea does not distinguish between Olympians or novices. There is nowhere to hide.
It might not be as obvious, but we should be as proud of our bond with the Clipper organisation as we are of the navy.