‘Throwback Thursday’: Trafalgar Square kicks off GREAT adventure

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Over the coming months, we will be reliving prominent moments from the 13-14 race in a series of 'Throwback Thursday' features. 

Today we look back 365 days to 31 July 2013 when the GREAT Britain yacht was officially unveiled at a unique naming ceremony in London’s Trafalgar Square to kick off its round the world campaign. 

Getting the 70ft yacht into place in front of the National Portrait Gallery was no easy task and a land-based naming was a first for the Clipper Race. 

Due to its size – twice the length and width and three times the height of a London bus - the route from Saxon Wharf Marina in Southampton to central London had to be consulted on with 26 different transport agencies. 

During its journey, the yacht had a convoy of six police motorcycles, three pilot vehicles and two GREAT Britain Team Partner Land Rover escorts – more back up than the Queen normally receives. 

Before transportation, the yachts keel, rudders, guardrails and mast had to be removed so that it could fit under the motorway bridges and through the tight streets in central London. After passing Big Ben just after midnight, the task of carefully piecing it back together began, The rebuild and presentational housing took six hours and more than 50 workers, but as the sun rose and the commuters flowed by, she was ready for her big moment. 

With Lord Nelson looking down on the proceedings from his column, Sports and Tourism Minister, Hugh Robertson MP and Sir Robin Knox-Johnston broke the traditional bottle of champagne over her bow and GREAT Britain was officially named. Over 110,000 people saw the boat during its five day stay in the capital and thousands took the chance to get on board for a tour with 13-14 crew who were in the final stages of their race preparations.

Whilst GREAT Britain’s journey to Trafalgar Square was undoubtedly a significant logistical effort, at just 142 miles, it was to be a mere warm up for the challenge that lay ahead. Over the next twelve months, the GREAT Britain yacht and the rest of the Clipper 70 fleet have travelled over 50,000 miles, taking consideration for the return delivery from Gosport to London, two Thames parades, various medical diversions and the teams varying divergences from the 40,000 mile rhumb line.

GREAT Britain Team Partner Land Rover assisted with the transport process to Trafalgar Square and has supported the yacht and its crew on their round the world journey. Congratulating crew on their achievements over the past 12 months, Global Brand Experience Director, Mark Cameron said: “The sport of sailing and the philosophy of Land Rover go hand in hand, with our shared values of adventure, inner strength and a competitive spirit. Land Rover is delighted for GREAT Britain and all the Clipper Race crew members for upholding those very values to complete this most challenging of races.

“The Clipper Round the World Yacht Race has been a fantastic initiative and has provided the perfect platform to deepen Land Rover’s involvement in sailing, as well as supporting the Government’s efforts to celebrate what is great about Britain overseas."

The new generation Clipper 70s have now all safely completed their first circumnavigation and are back at Clipper HQ, Gosport, having weathered a vast range of conditions, from the dreaded doldrums to fierce storms, a dramatic waterspout and even a lightening strike and a shark attack. 

Trafalgar Square was just the prelude to the journey but whilst Clipper 2013-14 Race crew are now off duty and contemplating their next adventures, the ending is far from in sight for the Clipper 70 fleet. 

The Clipper 70s each have at least three more circumnavigations left to complete with crew already in training for both the 2015-16 and 2017-18 race editions, which begs the question. What adventures will the next 150,000 miles provide? 
To relive GREAT Britain’s big journey to Trafalgar square, CLICK HERE