The Clipper Round the World Yacht Race has carved out a unique niche within the business of sailing since its launch nearly 16 years ago, according to Victoria Calder, who is representing Clipper Ventures at SportAccord Convention.

Founded in 1995 by sailing legend Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, the first man to sail solo around the world, Clipper Ventures has enjoyed rapid growth in recent years, and a brand new fleet of 12 identical 70-foot yachts have been lined up for the next edition of the event in 2013. 
"The race offers a powerful focus for business initiatives," said Calder, who is in Québec City to meet up with the sports industry's most influential figures.

"The race not only helps to boost trade and international brand recognition for the commercial sponsors, but it also raises the profiles of cities, regions or countries as international destinations."
More than 500 crew members, officials, sponsors and their guests stay for up to two weeks in local hotels at host ports, and the economic impact is considerable.

"The race stretches your business far and offers sponsors an 18-month platform to market themselves globally," Calder added. "Independent evaluations have acknowledged the power of the race to drive significant spend which can create a multi-million dollar impact."
Qingdao in China is just one of the sponsors to have benefited from its association with the sailing extravaganza, which includes rookie sailors alongside professionals on each yacht.

Qingdao Vice-Mayor Wang Xiulin said: "The Clipper Race operates in a unique way which has helped to promote Qingdao both widely and in depth. The race lasts a relatively long time with a yacht decorated with Qingdao branding going around the world for a year - something which has truly spread our Olympic sailing legacy since 2008."

The eighth edition of the Clipper Race, Clipper 11-12, is well over half-way through its 40,000-mile circumnavigation and will arrive into Southampton in the UK on July 22 this year.