Twelve 70-foot yachts left London for the start of the 2013-14 40,000 mile Clipper Round the World race.

The race started on Monday (September 2nd) off Southend for the first leg to Brest, France.

Crewed by amateurs, some of whom have never sailed before, led by professional skippers the race - the toughest in the world - ends back on the Thames in July next year.

After leaving St Katharines Dock where the race village had been established, the yachts travelled down the river in front of big crowds. Four, including the GB team, travelled under Tower Bridge as their epic voyage began.

The fleet was accompanied by packed passenger boats and lesiure craft as it made its way downstream.

The Clipper 70 boats have been specially designed for this race and are expected to reach record speeds of up to 30 knots on the voyage. Over the next ten months around 650 crew members are expected to take part in the various legs of the race.

The boats will sail to Rio on the second leg and then on to South Africa, Australia, Singapore,China, across tghe Pacific to California, then via Panama to Jamaica and New York, before crossing the Atlantic to Londonderry, Holland. They are expected back on the Thames around July 10th 2014.

Race founder Sir Robin Knox-Johnston said: “It is wonderful to see these gutsy people set off on one of the greatest adventures left on the planet.

“Departing from the iconic Tower Bridge, in the British capital London, is something really special for the crews and skippers who have been building up to this moment for months."

You can follow the race over the coming months HERE With race viewer HERE

Story dated September 1st/2nd 2013



Watch video of the departure from the Thames HERE

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