Clipper Ventures plc has today selected the City of Liverpool as the host port for the start and finish of its 2005/6 and 2007/8 Round the World Yacht Races and granted the City title sponsorship rights for its own yacht entry in both events.
In return for these rights, the City of Liverpool will pay cash fees of £1.8 million and provide top quality event hosting infrastructure and services.
The agreement between Liverpool City Council and Clipper Ventures PLC is a major boost for Liverpool's five-year build up to European Capital of Culture 2008. The landmark six-year cooperation is also the single largest sponsorship deal negotiated by the race organisers to date and is unprecedented in the arena of round the world yacht race hosting.
Clipper's next 35,000 mile, 11-month race will be a major event linking the city's Year of the Sea in 2005 and Year of Sport in 2006. The Clipper 2007 race will link the city's 800th birthday to the year-long Cultural festival in 2008.
City Council Leader, Councillor Mike STOREY, said: "The Clipper 2002/3 race was extremely popular. I am delighted to see the race playing a major part in our celebrations up to 2008 as the city flies the flag for the UK around the world.
"The River Mersey is fundamental to the success of the new Liverpool. The growth of the River Festival, World Heritage status for the waterfront in 2004, a new Cruise Liner Terminal in 2005 and now the Clipper Race, will re-establish its world famous reputation."
David HENSHAW, Chief Executive of Liverpool City Council, said: "We welcome this opportunity to exploit Liverpool's unique potential as 'The World In One City.'
"The Clipper race is a fantastic tool for the city to reach major new audiences. It also has tremendous synergy with our European Capital of Culture campaign. Our investment reflects the race's ability to generate tens of £millions for the city and showcase the new Liverpool around the globe."
Sir Robin KNOX-JOHNSTON, race organiser and first man to sail solo non-stop around the world, today commented: "We are attracted to the facilities of Liverpool and the city's enthusiasm to host the event.
"Liverpool has proven hosting capabilities and its people illustrated their great support for this race when crowds in excess of 80,000 flocked to view the spectacular finish of Clipper 2002 from both sides of the mighty Mersey River last month. We had more spectators than any other yacht race start or finish ever staged in the UK, which tells me that Liverpool should be the spiritual home of the Clipper race."
Ten new Clipper Dubois 68' racing yachts will be berthed at Liverpool's award-winning Albert Dock for the start and finish of the fifth Clipper Round the World Series, setting sail in September 2005. Each yacht will be sponsored by a major international city, as the exciting nation versus nation format of the Clipper 2005 race takes shape.
The involvement of Shanghai Double Happiness Yachts, the boat builders for the new Dubois 68 fleet, further enhances Liverpool's trade links with the Clipper race. Liverpool and Shanghai became sister cities in 1999 and have since developed strong business and cultural bonds. The Clipper race provides an ideal vehicle to enhance the ties between the two cities as part of Liverpool's China Link programme.
Nine other world-class city entries will bring their business sponsors, international media and civic delegations to Liverpool for the start and finish of both Clipper races, giving unique networking opportunities and large numbers of high yield visitors.
More than 700 crew members will compete on the two events embarking from the North West's nautical capital - providing a significant boost to the region' s visitor and maritime industries.
William WARD, Chief Executive of Clipper Ventures, said: "As race organisers, we are thrilled that our city sponsorship model, launched in 2000, has proved to be such a tremendous success.
"It has proven that cities can derive tremendous value from both hosting the event and sponsoring an entry. We are keen to establish Liverpool as the home of the Clipper race, enabling us to extend a partnership that has already been highly effective over the last four years.
"This deal is the first of several city sponsorship agreements, which we expect to announce in the coming months, and really sets us up to deliver a Clipper 2005 race which can generate a three fold increase in revenues over its 2002 edition."