THRILL-SEEKING sailors have set off on a 40,000-mile adventure racing each other around the world.
Thousands of people waved off the crews of this year’s Clipper Round the World Yacht Race yesterday.
The fleet of 12 70ft ocean racing yachts sailed out of London in a spectacular parade with Tower Bridge lifting to salute the crews who are about to face the ultimate endurance test.
The Gosport-based Clipper race founder and chairman, Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, is himself a legendary British yachtsman.
He said: ‘It is wonderful to see these gutsy people set off on one of the greatest adventures left on the planet.
‘Departing from the iconic Tower Bridge, in London, is something really special for the crews and skippers who have been building up to this moment for months.
‘To see them return to London as accomplished circumnavigators in 11 months’ time will be a special moment.’
As reported in The News, there are a number of sailors from the area taking part in this year’s race.
Veteran sailors Pete Stirling, from Titchfield, and Gareth Glover, from Gosport, will separately lead their crews on Clipper 70 yachts, Jamaica and Qingdao
Ed Collison, 18, from Emsworth, is also the youngest person set to go around the world with the crews.
They were joined on their departure yesterday by a paddleship steamer, pilot boats, police boats, and numerous well-wishers.
The fleet will not be returning until July 2014, after the crews have completed their lengthy race and visited 16 ports across six continents.
Clipper is based at Royal Clarence Marina in Gosport.
Since its creation in 1995, it has turned more than 3,500 novice sailors into ocean racers.
The race is officially due to start today at 9.30am offshore at Southend.
The first leg of the journey ends in Marina da Gloria, Rio de Janeiro.
The crews will then continue to South Africa, Western Australia, Sydney, Brisbane, Singapore, China, San Francisco, Panama, Jamaica, New York, Derry Londonderry and the Netherlands before returning to St Katharine Docks in London.