Boasting striking pink livery, the Welcome to Yorkshire yacht is sure to attract attention as she spearheads a global marketing mission to raise the profile of the county.
This will be the third consecutive edition of the Clipper Race, now in its 15th year, in which the county has been represented and the project will build on the impact of its predecessor, Hull & Humber, which raced in Clipper 07-08 and Clipper 09-10, hosting successful business to business, tourism and cultural events in many of the ports of call.
Gary Verity, Chief Executive of Welcome to Yorkshire, said, "Yorkshire is a world class destination and deserves to be seen on a global stage. The Clipper Race is the perfect event to showcase Yorkshire in key global markets. This is the third edition running that Yorkshire has had representation in the Clipper Race; we are building on the success of those endeavours and hope to make this race our most successful to date."
Media coverage for Hull & Humber's participation has been valued at more than US$17 million, while evaluation by Yorkshire Forward, the Regional Development Agency, showed the impact of previous campaigns helped raise the regional profile, aid inward investment, change local perceptions and increase tourism and educational opportunities.
Founder and chairman of the Clipper Race, Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, said, "I am very happy to say, Welcome to Yorkshire' for Clipper 11-12. This is the third race in which the county has been represented and it has always been a strong contender, both in the race and in ports of call where Welcome to Yorkshire has already shown itself to be an organisation that comes up with inspiring and effective ways to promote tourism and giving a warm Yorkshire welcome around the world."
The Clipper Race was established by Sir Robin, the first man to sail solo and non-stop around the world, in order to give ordinary people the chance to do something truly extraordinary. Approximately 40 per cent of the crew have never sailed before embarking on their rigorous pre-race training and those taking part come from all walks of life, representing more than 230 professions and 40 nationalities. Among those in the Welcome to Yorkshire team are 14 natives and residents of the county.
Each of the ten teams is led by an elite skipper and taking charge of Welcome to Yorkshire will be Englishman, Rupert Dean. Rupert is no stranger to the Clipper Race having skippered a team twice before in Clipper 98 and Clipper 2000. But, having come in as a relief skipper at short notice he has unfinished business and is looking forward to running a race campaign from start to finish – and he's out for victory.
"I have every intention of winning Clipper 11-12," says Rupert, 39. "Everyone knows the importance of preparing oneself, the yacht and her crew before the start line, so to manage a complete campaign from start to finish, with everything that entails, is an opportunity I relish."
Rupert and some of his crew joined Welcome to Yorkshire representatives for the announcement in the historic town of Whitby, home to one of the world's greatest explorers, Captain James Cook.
Speaking on board a replica of Cook's boat, the Bark Endeavour, Rupert said, "I am very proud to be leading the Welcome to Yorkshire team in our biggest endeavour to date. We will do our very best as ambassadors for the county."
The 40,000 mile circumnavigation is contested by ten identical stripped down 68-foot racing yachts, each sponsored by a city, region, country or company. Joining Welcome to Yorkshire for Clipper 11-12 are the Keppel Corporation sponsored Singapore and, representing China's Olympic sailing city, Qingdao, both entering the race for the fourth time. Returning for a second time is Visit Finland, backed by the Finnish Tourist Board and Scottish entry Edinburgh Inspiring Capital. And making their debut in the race are Derry-Londonderry, celebrating their status as UK City of Culture 2013, and De Lage Landen, the global provider of asset-based financing programmes, which will race under the Dutch flag. For the first time there will be two Australian entries vying to keep the Clipper Trophy down under: Geraldton Western Australia and Gold Coast Australia. The name of the final yacht is due to be announced next week.