In the heart of London, St Katharine Docks became a vibrant hive of activity, uniting everyone who makes the Clipper Race a success. Over the week, the docks became a platform to showcase the event, celebrate the people who are part of it and build relationships between those who have a shared interest in the race.

Naming Ceremonies

Each of the eleven teams had its own moment in the spotlight as a series of naming ceremonies were performed throughout the week. From cultural performances showcasing Sanya, Qingdao and Zhuhai to the Vietnamese Ambassador to the United Kingdom cutting the ribbon on behalf of Ha Long Bay, Viet Nam, each ceremony was tailored to reflect the diverse range of Team Partners for the 2019-20 race.

Partners utilised these opportunities to reveal new partnerships, Seattle unveiled Hyatt as its new Team Supporter, both will work together with Seattle Aquarium, Waste Management and Port of Seattle to promote ocean health around the world. Celebrations continued as the Punta del Este yacht was officially named and the organisers revealed its new Team Supporters; Garzon Wines, Santander, Sura Investments and pharmaceutical giant Urufarma. The Team Supporters will underpin the Yacht Club Punta del Este partnership as they use the Clipper Race as an international trade and promotion platform.

Clipper Race Fanzone

The FanZone was a hive of activity during the build up to Race Start. Partners used the opportunity to raise brand awareness through public engagement. Learning and Development Partner, Grahame Robb Associates, got crew and public testing out its problem solving challenges, Marlow Ropes had those visiting the dome practicing their knots, whilst Unicef showcased its school in a box initiative that provides essential support to vulnerable children all around the world. The Unicef team also launched its ‘Spinnaker of Support’ fundraising initiative which asks people to leave a message of support on one of the sails from the yacht in return for a donation. All contributions are helping the Clipper Race edge towards its £1,000,000 total fundraising goal by the end of this race.

During the week over 3,800 people got on board a Clipper 70 yacht for their very own immersive tour learning what life on board at 45-degrees might be like. One hundred lucky ticket holders nabbed front row seats for the first ever ‘Clipper Race Film Night’ with a screening of the new Sir Robin Knox-Johnston documentary. The international nature of the race was showcased in a mouthwatering range of food traders representing countries on the race route. Destination partners, Portimao, Derry~Londonderry and Sanya targeted London's tourists with exhibits promoting what visitors can expect during the stopovers later in the race route.

Race Start weekend

The scene for departure weekend was set with the annual Race Start dinner celebrating the ‘Unstoppable Journey’ of the Clipper Race. Landing 42 provided the perfect backdrop, framing the skyline of London, for partners to come together and reflect on the successes of long term campaigns, to share in the excitement of new partnerships and what is to come over the next eleven months.

On Sunday 01 September the sun shone on the thousands of supporters who lined the banks of St. Katharine Docks and the River Thames to witness the Clipper 2019-20 Race departure.

The celebration commenced when Clipper Race Founders, Sir Robin Knox-Johnston and William Ward OBE took to the stage. Sir Robin addressed the crew and watching crowds saying: “By the end of the race, you see crew standing tall. Take an 18 year old who is starting the race now, when they return in a year’s time, maturity-wise, they will be 24. They come on a huge amount. You see a change amongst all crew - you see their self-confidence grow when they’ve done something this special with their lives.

“Why paint your life in pastel shades? Paint it in bright colours and enjoy every moment of it!

Each of the teams then stepped into the limelight, parading through the onlooking crowds and onto the Clipper Race stage. It was then time to board their yachts and fasten their lifejackets ahead of the 40,000 nautical mile journey which will test crew both physically and menatally.

Tower Bridge was lifted to mark the occasion and the eleven strong fleet paraded up the Thames to rapturous applause. Spectator boats filled with loved ones got to be right in the heart of the action and be final ones to wave goodbye as the fleet ahead of the start of the first race to Portimão, Portugal.