After being short listed by The Transat race organizer, OC Events Ltd as one of two UK cities bidding for the start of The Transat 2008, Plymouth has succeeded in defeating the close competition to retain this most historic of ocean yacht races formerly known as the OSTAR.
The Transat, which has started from Plymouth ever since the inaugural race in 1960 when Sir Francis Chichester won the event in just over 40 days, has become synonymous with the city. Steeped in maritime history, The Transat, referred to as the toughest of them all, is known for its demands on both skipper and boat as they race solo, against the prevailing winds across the North Atlantic to America.
John McKenna, Commercial Director of OC Events comments: “OC Events took on running this classic race in 2004 without full title sponsorship and no real support structure in place. It is great to be in this position now that will see The Transat 2008 event supported by Plymouth and her partners ensuring this race will grow in stature.”
Plymouth’s successful bid to host the start of The Transat 2008 has been led by Plymouth based Ocean Yachtsman, Conrad Humphreys and backed by the Sutton Harbour Group, the South West Regional Development Agency and Plymouth City Council, all of whom have been key to the success of Plymouth’s bid.
Central to winning the bid was the decision to bring the race into the heart of the city at Sutton Harbour, which will be achieved by building a race village around the Barbican. This will be open to the public free of charge over a 10 day period running up to the start of the Race, on 11 May 2008. The spectacular fleet of yachts that will participate in The Transat 2008 will be moored at Sutton Harbour, creating a spectacular interactive venue for everyone to enjoy.
Nigel Godefroy, Managing Director of the Sutton Harbour Group comments: “Winning The Transat 2008 is a spectacular coup for the city and will be a great curtain-raiser for next year’s Plymouth Summer Festival that we also support. By hosting the race village at Sutton Harbour we’ll be bringing this exciting event to the historic heart of the city and will be able to showcase some of the best that Plymouth has to offer.
“The fact that Plymouth City Council, the Sutton Harbour Group, the Regional Development Agency, Conrad Humphreys and OC Events have been able to work together to deliver this world-class event for Plymouth is a great demonstration of what can be achieved through true partnership.”
The commercial benefits to Plymouth and the South West associated with the race build up and start of the Transat 2008 are countless. In 2004, 468 accredited journalists from 32 countries covered the race start from Plymouth. The race attracted 37 international entries with an economic impact estimated to be 1,984,156 USD to the City. In 2008, the race is expected to generate 2,975,687 USD for the regional economy, with over 500 accredited journalists and 30-40 of the world’s very best ocean sailors traveling to the city.
Conrad Humphreys, Ocean Yachtsman and Managing Director of Event South West comments: “I’d like to thank everyone involved in supporting the bid to retain arguably the most important Transatlantic Race in history. It’s crucial to the international profile of the City and the region that we secure sporting events of this stature. In particular, I’d like to thank Nigel Godefroy and Sutton Harbour for backing a vision to bring the event into the heart of the City. The next nine months will be critical if we are to build an event that leaves a lasting sporting and cultural impact for the City and the region and I hope the private sector will now take the opportunity to become involved in this remarkable sailing competition.”
Councillor Glenn Jordan, Plymouth City Council’s Cabinet Member for Healthy Communities and Leisure, continues: “We are delighted to be working with OC Events and our other partners in bringing this prestigious event back to its historic and spiritual home. Hosting the launch of Transat 2008 provides a real opportunity for Plymouth to cement its position as a fantastic venue for maritime and sporting events, as well as a prime destination centre for visitors.”
Richard Thomas, Director of Marketing at the South West RDA commented: "We are delighted that the Transat is coming to Plymouth once again. As well as the direct economic benefits associated with the event, it provides us with a marvellous opportunity to showcase Plymouth and the surrounding areas to the rest of the world. This announcement is particularly timely as we build up to the South West hosting the 2012 Olympic sailing events. As a result, we are determined that the Transat will have a lasting legacy; one that enhances the South West’s reputation as a first class visitor destination and as a world class venue for sailing.”
The title partner to The Transat 2008 will be announced in the coming weeks along with the publication of the Notice of Race confirming the classes and the US finish port.