Spotlight on: The Clipper 2023-24 Race Start at Gunwharf Quays, Portsmouth


The start of the Clipper 2023-24 Race was nothing short of electric. Bringing together Clipper Race crew, friends and family, Skippers, AQPs, Race Officials and Clipper Race partners, Gunwharf Quays was alive with celebration, activation and of course incredible sailing action.

Image: The Clipper 2023-24 Race Start

Over the course of the event, Gunwharf Quays saw tens of thousands of visitors to the site, who engaged with a whole host of activities on offer, and of course lined the docks to wave off the Clipper Race fleet and its intrepid crew for the last time in eleven months.

Public and Community Engagement

The Clipper Race is a truly global stage, but one that aims to engage with communities, and connect people from all background with adventure. Whether that’s signing up as a crew member, or groups of Scouts or Schoolchildren stepping on board a Clipper 70 ocean racing yacht, the Clipper Race aims to inspire. During the Race Start festivities over 1,500 members of the public stepped on board an ocean racing yacht for a tour and to meet our intrepid crew.

Image: Future Clipper Race Crew stepping on board a racing yacht

Image: Thousands of members of the public enjoyed a tour on board a Clipper Race yacht

The Clipper Race Village was brimming with energy, as World Street Food vans opened their hatches, and visitors enjoyed a delicious culinary tour tasting some of the food from the countries the Clipper Race will be stopping at around the world. The stage, with a British Sign Language interpreter, played host to a range of new wave and world music, with plenty of acts performing that are ones to watch for the future, interspersed with inspiring talks from Clipper Race Officials, Crew and Professional Sailors. In addition, the Roving Street Theatre was in full swing throughout the event, and local social enterprise Seekers Create gave the public the chance to doodle on an ex-Clipper Race sail.

Old sails were given a new lease of life thanks to Oarsome Chance and Canvas Works, who came down to show supporters how it easy it is to sew old Clipper Race sails into a bag or laptop sleeve. Official Travel Partner ATPI made the most of the high footfall of the event in hosting a stand in the Race Village, alongside Clipper Ventures’ sister companies Clipper Events, SKIRR Adventures and Hamble School of Yachting.

Naming Ceremonies

A highlight of any Clipper Race Start is the naming ceremony for each of the eleven yachts- a key moment where each yacht is officially named, with the crew having the chance to celebrate the start of an epic challenge alongside their Team Partner. Featuring obligatory fizz, food, drinks and music, each of the eleven teams’ official Naming Ceremonies were a unique experience. Not only did teams get to wear their Musto crew kit together on board for the first time, but the ceremonies allowed Race Partners to engage with crew and wish them well on the epic voyage ahead.

Highlights included electric performances by an African choir (Bekezela) and Chinese Dancers (Zhuhai and Qingdao) and Events DC kitted out the Washington, DC crew with plenty of DC goodies.

Image: Zhuhai naming ceremony

A showcase for Race Partners

The start of the Clipper 2023-24 Race welcomed a brand-new Fleet Partner: communications specialist Sena. The company is providing Bluetooth headsets for each Clipper 70, ensuring seamless comms on board each vessel. Sena’s partnership with the Clipper Race facilitates the company’s launch into the extreme water sports and marine industries, and the Sena team were on site during the Race Start to deliver training to the 22 Race Skippers and AQPs.

Image: Skipper Hannah Brewis and AQP Cameron McCracken during Sena training

Technical Clothing Partner Musto’s flagship Lighthouse Store in Gunwharf Quays was a hub of activity with crew purchasing their final bits of gear, and family and friends picking up their official race merchandise, alongside a ‘Race the Race Skipper’ activation and prize draw.

Clipper Connect Business Series

A key feature of a Clipper Race stopover is the Clipper Connect Business Series: an initiative closely tied to the Clipper Race. Held in ports around the world, Clipper Connect events transcend conventional networking events by infusing sustainability, global business insights and real-world connections. The Clipper Race Start in Portsmouth hosted the first in this iconic series with inspirational speakers taking to the stage to explore the theme of using sport for social impact causes.

Image: The first panel of the 2023-24 Clipper Connect Business Series

The fascinating panel of speakers – made up of Laura Ayres, Clipper Ventures Managing Director; Clare Ansell, Chief Executive at Motiv8;Hampshire’s Deputy Police Crime Commissioner, Terry Norton; Ineke Van Der Weijden, Clipper Race Skipper and Frankie Townend, Our Isles and Oceans Ambassador - explored topics such as the positive impacts of sport in communities, initiatives to support vulnerable people and how sailing has influenced the lives of those from a range of demographics in an insightful panel conversation. Race Partners, crew and businesses were able to explore this topic in depth, forge new global connections and in turn inspire courageous leadership.

Celebration and networking

The Clipper Race welcomed its 2023-24 edition Partners to Gunwharf Quays for a true celebration of the global sailing event and unique opportunities for networking. The Partner Forum at the Aspex Gallery provided the opportunity for Race Partners to meet, learn and collaborate, and the ‘Adventure for Good’ Celebration Dinner was an evening of celebrating successes past, present and future.

Image: Clipper Race Partner Forum

Image: Adventure For Good Celebration Dinner

On 3 September, Race Partners took front-row seats at Southsea Castle for the Race Departure Ceremony and Race Start, waving off the fleet as they embarked on Race 1 of the Circumnavigation.