Clipper Ventures PLC has today selected the port of Fremantle as the first-ever Australian stopover for the prestigious Clipper 2005 Round the World Yacht Race.
The AIM listed company chaired by Sir Robin Knox-Johnston also announced that the State of Western Australia will sponsor one of the ten yacht entries in the competitive event.
Tourism Minister Bob Kucera and Australian yachting legend John Longley launched the Western Australian campaign in the shadow of Australia II at the Fremantle Maritime Museum in Victoria Quay, Fremantle, at 09:00 (local time) today.
William Ward, Chief Executive Officer of Clipper Ventures Plc, commented: "We are pleased to announce Western Australia's involvement in the Clipper Round the World Race. The agreement comes hot on the heels the £1.8 million sponsorship by the UK city of Liverpool and its appointment as the host port for the start and finish of the Clipper series. We are progressing with additional sponsorships in our nation versus nation format and will announce these over the coming months."
Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, race organiser and first man to sail solo non-stop around the world, added: "These are exciting times for Clipper Ventures as we start to put the buoys in place for our 2005 race and we are delighted to have secured the first rate event hosting services that the port of Fremantle offers. Western Australia is famous for its brilliant blue skies and warm sunny climate; attributes sure to prove popular with the visiting Clipper crews."
The Clipper 2005 event will start from Liverpool (UK) in September 2005 and follow the longest route of all round the world races. The sole Australasian stop is scheduled for late December 2005 in Fremantle, before the 10-strong racing fleet heads for the islands of Indonesia and then China.
After blasting across the top of the North Pacific, the teams will then race to Panama City and transit the famous Canal, before sprinting across the Caribbean. Then it's up the East Coast of the United States and back across the Atlantic for a dramatic finale.
Tourism Minister for Western Australia, Bob Kucera, said: "One of the ten 68-foot yachts will be known as 'Western Australia' and will be emblazoned with imagery of our State, acting as something of a roving tourism ambassador across five continents.
"The tourism benefits of our participation in this event are considerable. Firstly, our host port status will mean an extended stay by the 10-strong international fleet, associated support groups and media. Each of the yachts will be flying under their national flag, so we anticipate significant global interest as the race progresses.
"There will also be the opportunity to promote Western Australia through all 12 stages of the race, across five continents. The fleet will travel through some of our key tourism markets in Asia and Europe, and having Western Australia represented will be invaluable,"
Mr Kucera added.
"This is the sort of event that really captures the public's imagination and can translate into a long-term boost for Western Australian tourism. We all remember the drama and excitement associated with Western Australia's participation in the America's Cup; I believe the Clipper 2005 Round the World Yacht Race will generate a similar level of enthusiasm.
"I look forward to seeing the Western Australian challenge come together and will be first on the dock at the Fremantle Sailing Club to welcome the fleet 's arrival in 2005. This initiative will bring visitors to Western Australia and lift the State's profile internationally. If we win, so much the better,"
Mr Kucera concluded.