Portsmouth has been chosen as the start and finish port for the prestigious Global Challenge 2004/5, round-the-world yacht race, bringing months of speculation to an end.
The twelve 72' race yachts will be berthed at Gunwharf Quays Marina for the start and finish of the fourth Global Challenge.
Simon WALKER, managing director of race organiser, Challenge Business comments: "The waterfront development of Gunwharf Quays is second to none and will provide the premier facilities the race demands for the sponsors, crews, yachts and spectators of this major sporting event.
"With over 100,000 visitors a week visiting Gunwharf Quays, it is more than capable of dealing with vast numbers of people.
"With a year to the gun we're looking forward to now working closely with Portsmouth City Council and Gunwharf Quays in making sure the Global Challenge 2004/5 is the best race yet."
Commenting on being chosen, Cllr Mike HANCOCK, the city's Executive Member for Planning, Regeneration, Economic Development and Property, said: "The Global Challenge is going to be another fantastic event which offers two more big dates in our diaries for 2004/5.
"We are, of course, already looking forward to the national D-Day 60th anniversary and the return of the International Festival of the Sea - other events which keep us in the international spotlight.
"The Global Challenge gives us the chance to not only welcome all the crews and their families to Portsmouth but also opportunities to showcase the city to the many global corporations and UK organisations which may be first time visitors here."
Challenge Business was attracted to the facilities of Portsmouth, the enthusiasm of the City to host the event and the opportunity to launch the race from such an ideal platform as Gunwharf Quays. With its imposing waterfront location and more than 20 bars, restaurants, cafes and retail outlets, the facilities are ideal for the Crew Volunteers and hordes of visitors to the race.
The tiered waterfront and large balconies at Gunwharf Quays make an ideal vantage point, as has been proved at previous major events such as last year's Cutty Sark Tall Ships' Race. The public will be able to meet the crew, watch the preparations and enjoy the carnival atmosphere in the days leading up to the start of the race.
The city can also accommodate the needs of the race's sponsorship community with its many unparalleled conference and hospitality facilities. Its direct links to London also means that sponsors can invite their clients, employees and guests to a destination that will be humming with activity.
Deborah Owen-Ellis Clark, Marketing Director of Gunwharf Quays, said: "We have been holding major yachting events from Gunwharf Quays since we opened in 2001, but to be chosen by The Challenge Business for the Global Challenge 2004-2005 puts the seal on all our hard work. We can assure the organisers, crews and spectators who visit us for this demanding race, a warm welcome and an excellent view of all the action on the water.
"We are keen to engage with the local community and schools to embrace this exciting event and follow the race and provide a suitable send off and welcome home for the intrepid crews."
More details about the 2005/2006 Global Challenge are available on the event website at the address below.