Trade groups representing two of the world’s major cities, London and Hong Kong, today announced their participation in the Clipper 2002 Round The World Yacht Race. Each will adopt one of a fleet of eight, identical 60ft racing yachts, to be called London Clipper and Hong Kong Clipper respectively. Equipped with a professional skipper and an amateur crew of 15, the yachts will do battle against those of six other cities: Liverpool, Cape Town, Bristol, Glasgow, plus two others yet to declare. This six-leg, 16-port, 35,500-mile race will begin from Liverpool, UK, on 27 October and return there eleven months later in September 2003.

London First chief executive Stephen O’Brien comments: “This is a great opportunity to champion London as one of the world’s leading business and financial centres and one of the best places in which to live, work and visit. Clipper 2002 visits a number of the world’s existing and developing commercial centres and we’ll be taking full advantage of the many promotional opportunities to get these messages across.”

Mayor of London, Ken Livingstone, added: “London is a world city whose influence resonates around the globe. I’m sure Londoners will get behind their team and share my hope that London Clipper will lead the way in this international race.”

The director-general of the Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office in London, Andrew Leung, comments: “We are delighted with this opportunity to promote Hong Kong internationally as Asia’s world city. Our participation in Clipper 2002 will help to further the development of Hong Kong as Asia’s leading tourist destination and location for regional and international businesses – and will enable us to market the region’s tremendous appeal overseas. Hong Kong has earned its international reputation as a leading and highly efficient commercial and financial centre, so we welcome the chance to explore new and expanding markets around the world.”

Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, record-breaking sailor, founder of the Clipper racing series and chairman of race organiser Clipper Ventures plc, commented: “This is the first time we have invited international cities to participate in the race and we are delighted by the response. Hong Kong is one of the world’s greatest ports, one the most distinctive cities and vibrant business centres. It is also pleasing that Hong Kong will once again be an important host port and will help us celebrate the halfway point of the race.

“In the Clipper 2000 race, London Clipper contested the lead and finished a creditable third. It was, in addition, an extremely confident, resourceful and adaptable crew. I know London First would like to improve on that result and demonstrate to the world that qualities such as confidence, resourcefulness and adaptability can be found in London in abundance. I believe both the London and Hong Kong Clipper crews will become tremendous role models for their sponsors.”

Speaking to investors about the values of these sponsorship deals to Clipper Ventures plc, Sir Robin said: “If all the yacht-based sponsorship opportunities are secured, the two deals could generate revenues of over ‘500,000. This would be good business for the company. London and Hong Kong are both regional powerhouses and we expect our relationship with them to lead to other, attractive opportunities.”

London First and Invest Hong Kong will each be helping to find ten local companies prepared to sponsor their yachts to the tune of ‘25,000. In return, the sponsors will be offered a host of advertising and promotional opportunities connected with the yacht and with the race’s host ports world-wide.