Clipper Ventures, the new owners of the Around Alone race, have announced that the race will start from and finish at its spiritual home, Newport, Rhode Island, for its 20th anniversary in 2002

Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, Chairman of Clipper Ventures plc, has announced that an agreement-in-principle has been reached with Newport, Rhode Island to host the start and finish of the Around Alone 2002. The east coast sail racing centre has long been recognised as the spiritual home of the race and its return after a spell in Charleston, South Carolina will be a fitting way to mark the race’s 20th anniversary.

“We are delighted to take this global event home on its 20th anniversary,” said Sir Robin Knox-Johnston. “It has matured greatly since its inception and it will be a pleasure to share it with our long-time friends and supporters at Newport.”

Clipper Ventures bought the 28,800-mile, four-stage, quadrennial solo circumnavigation race in April 2001. It is believed this deal is worth over US$1million to the new owners with payment scheduled as a signing-on fee followed by ‘milestone’ payments. Clipper Ventures and Newport have also entered into three profit-sharing deals covering local merchandising, local sponsorship and a waterfront festival timed to coincide with the start of the race in September 2002.

“Part of our strategy for Clipper Ventures is to broaden our portfolio of marine races and events,” said Sir Robin. “After our signature event, The Clipper Race, Around Alone represents our second major offering and means we now control two out of the world’s five circumnavigation races. The Newport agreement has given our staff and board a tremendous boost and demonstrates that our strategy is sound.”

The intention is to make the Around Alone the world’s premier solo round the world race. To this end, they have adopted IMOCA rules, largely devised by Open 60 sailors, and brought the race back to British shores where media interest has blossomed since Ellen MacArthur’s success in the Vendée Globe.

Twenty distinguished solo racers have already registered their intent to race and several others are expected before the deadline for entries in March 2002. From Newport, the fleet will sail to a host port on Britain’s South Coast, then to Cape Town in South Africa. The first Southern Ocean leg will take the fleet to New Zealand, and the second to Salvador in Brazil before heading home to Newport where finishers are expected in Spring 2003.