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Times Clipper Race Round the World Yacht Race Starts

by Sue Ward Owen on 16 Oct 2000
The Times Clipper 2000 Round the World Yacht Race got underway
at midday today in perfect spectator conditions, while skippers and crews
employed early tactics in a light 5 knot southerly breeze. An armada of
1,800 spectator boats jostled for position in a sunny Solent today to
witness the start of the prestigious race off Southsea Castle, Portsmouth.
Whilst the Solent was awash with boats, a 20,000-strong crowd of supporters
and well-wishers flocked to Southsea Common to give the Clipper
yachts and crews a spectacular send off from the shore.

The eight identical 60ft yachts, each sponsored by UK cities
including
Bristol, Glasgow, Leeds, Liverpool, London, Plymouth, Portsmouth
and the
island of Jersey, embarked on the challenging 11-month
circumnavigation at
precisely 1200. The race cannon, signifying the start, was
fired by actor
Ian McShane, television's Lovejoy and a Patron of The Philip
Green Memorial
Trust for sick and disabled children, the official charity for
The Times
Clipper 2000. Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, the first man to sail
solo non-stop
around the world and Olympic Gold Medallist, Shirley Robertson
were also
present at the race start.

London Clipper crossed the start line in 1st place and as the
fleet raced
westwards towards the Needles, Isle of Wight, her rival Bristol
Clipper led
at the first mark.

Earlier today, Shirley Robertson, the first British woman to win
an Olympic
sailing medal when she scooped Gold in the Europe Class at the
Sydney Games,
led a spectacular sailpast of the combined Clipper Ventures
fleet from the
entrance of Portsmouth Harbour to the official start line off
Southsea
Castle. The fleet of eight 60ft Clipper yachts departed Port
Solent Marina
and were joined by 10 Clipper Reflex 38's and 10 Clipper Gemini
RIBs, whilst
Shirley Robertson led the fleet aboard the Type 42 Destroyer,
HMS GLASGOW
towards the race start.

Commenting on The Times Clipper 2000 Round The World Yacht Race,
Shirley
Robertson said, "The experience aboard HMS Glasgow was one I
will never
forget. The Olympics provided an immense boost for British
sailing which
was clearly demonstrated again today by the atmosphere and
enthusiasm
amongst the crews, their families and race supporters here in
Portsmouth."

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