Harken Derm

Making waves in global sports sponsorship

Published on July 7th, 2018

As the 11th edition of the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race nears the end of its circumnavigation, SportsPro details how this lower-tier race succeeds while the glamour events struggle.


The Clipper Round the World Yacht Race has developed a strong pedigree, over more than twenty years and eleven biennial editions, as a powerful and effective platform for the international promotion of tourism and trade with a unique formula for government which is also attracting business.

The bold concept of creating a global mass participation sports challenge, which would also provide a platform for national, regional and city governments to promote their interests around the world, was conceived by sailing legend Sir Robin Knox-Johnston in the early 1990s.

Sir Robin became the first person to sail solo, non-stop, around the planet in 1968/9; his determination and resilience are also legendary and with the assistance of business partner William Ward they established the company in 1995 and held the inaugural global race in 1996. Just under 200 amateur sailors participated in eight identical 60 foot yachts in a challenging circumnavigation.

As a business model income came not only from paying (or sponsored) crew, from all walks of life, but also from destinations securing the branding and global activation rights to the Clipper Race yachts in addition to hosting the global event. Its financial viability and sustainability is rare in sailing and has enabled continued reinvestment to secure consistent growth and the evolution of innovative partnership opportunities on six continents. Full report.

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