Interview: Boris Johnson

(This article originally appeared on iSportconnect)

Boris Johnson Launches 2013-14 Clipper Race in London

London is to host the start and finish of the 2013-14 Clipper Round the World Race, Mayor of London Boris Johnson and Clipper Race founder Sir Robin Knox-Johnston announced today.

The ninth Clipper Race will leave the River Thames from St. Katherine’s Dock, central London’s only marina, on 1 September 2013. The competitors will travel 40,000 miles across six continents, before returning to the capital in July 2014. It is the world’s largest ocean race and 650 people in 12 fleets will take part.

Speaking exclusively to iSportconnect, Boris Johnson said: “We calculate the boost to the London economy at about £50 million, maybe more. That will come from tourism impact and all sorts of spending that we think this kind of sporting event will bring to our city.

“I think the public will be thrilled to see the River Thames at the heart of a great sporting event. We saw in the Diamond Jubilee how brilliant the River can look and perform as an aquatic venue and I think we’ll see that again with the Clipper Round the World Race. It is a very tough thing to do, like the Everest of the sea, and they will come back and have a tumultuous reception in London.”

The Mayor also spoke of the range of global sporting events that London now attracts, adding: “Have you been to one of those Japanese restaurants where the food just keeps coming round on a conveyor belt? That’s what the sporting events are like in London. Even if you try to stop them you couldn’t.”

The Clipper Race was launched in 1996 by Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, who became the first person to sail solo non-stop around the world in 1968-69.

Sir Robin told iSportconnect: “Britain, as a trading nation, really started in London. It was the River Thames that made London great. For years of prosperity in the United Kingdom, London was the biggest port in the world. When I went to sea as a youngster, this River was packed. This is a fabulous River and I’d love to see other people use it, not just for commercial reasons, but for leisure. So to come back to my River, if you like, and to St. Katherine’s, which I developed as a marina 40 years ago is great. It’s like coming home.”

The race features amateur sailors, offering “ordinary people to chance to do something extraordinary.” The sailors are provided with full training, boats, food, clothing and professional skippers.

Sir Robin added: “Out of the 650 international crew participating in the race more than 80 live in the Greater London area, so it will be especially exciting for them. Our crew come from all walks of life, are aged from 18 into their early seventies, and over a third are women.”

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