November 19, 2014. The fleet at the start of Leg 2 from Cape Town to Abu Dhabi.

City in race to host Blue Riband sporting spectacle

Liverpool has been shortlisted to be the only UK host port for one of the most prestigious sporting events on water.

The city is bidding to welcome The Ocean Race in 2021/22 – widely regarded as one of the world’s longest and toughest events. Taking place every four years, The Ocean Race attracts around 2.5 million live spectators and a TV audience of more than two billion. The event sees the elite of professional sailing race around the world, visiting six continents over eight months of gruelling sport.

Liverpool is already making waves, and out of more than 50 bids, the city has been shortlisted and is now in the running with three other European destinations, to host the European finish of the ‘Trans-Atlantic’ stage.

If successful, the city would welcome the fleet in 2022 (potentially May), when the race would stop-over for up to 15 days. To mark the visit there would be a packed programme of events, cultural activities, sustainability and business summits, as well as sporting experiences to celebrate the arrival of this global exhibition of sailing prowess.

Tomorrow (Tuesday 19 March) is a critical milestone in the city’s bid as a team from The Ocean Race head to the city to look at the feasibility and suitability of Liverpool hosting the event. They will tour key landmarks, including the Pier Head and Royal Albert Dock Liverpool, and will also travel to Wirral to explore its waterfront. The small delegation will meet with key people including Mayor of Liverpool Joe Anderson, the city council’s Culture Liverpool events team and representatives from Royal Albert Dock Liverpool and the Canal and River Trust.

Wirral Borough Council is supporting Liverpool’s bid and would look at the possibility of sharing hosting opportunities if the city is successful.

It is expected that a final decision on host cities will be announced in the summer.

The 2021-22 edition of the race will start from Alicante, Spain in the autumn of 2021 and finish in Europe in the early summer of 2022, with up to nine stopover ports.

If the bid is successful, it would be another addition to Liverpool’s burgeoning portfolio of world class sporting events as the city is gearing up to host the Vitality Netball World Cup in July, in 2021 it’s the Rugby League World Cup and the Special Olympics GB, and in 2022 the city will host the World Artistic Gymnastic Championships.

Mayor of Liverpool, Joe Anderson, said: “Liverpool is renowned for staging major, successful outdoor events – with a strong track record of maritime extravaganzas – which shine an international spotlight on the city.

“Just a glance at our enviable annual events calendar showcases our ambitions, but we are always looking at new initiatives we can bring here.

“Liverpool would have a huge amount to offer if we were successful in our bid to host The Ocean Race, and we understand that an event of this scale is an incredibly important catalyst for regeneration, investment as well as raising the profile of sporting activities.

“To be shortlisted is a real reflection of the value Liverpool can add to this global sporting spectacle and that we are a clear contender in this race. We look forward to welcoming the race team to the city and showing them just why it would be plain sailing to choose Liverpool.”

Race Director, Phil Lawrence said: “The Ocean Race is a truly unique sporting endeavour that brings substantial benefits, impacts and audiences to its host partners.

“We are delighted to see such an engaged and committed effort from Liverpool and look forward to partnering closely with the Merseyside team as they further develop their bid. It is impressive to see the energy and enthusiasm this hosting opportunity has generated.”

Sue Grindrod, chief executive, Royal Albert Dock Liverpool Ltd, said: “Thanks to our rich maritime heritage and proven track record for hosting world-class waterfront spectaculars – such as the Mersey River Festival, Three Queens and the Clipper Race – Liverpool City Region is now competing internationally for these massive events to come here, which is an indication of just how far we have come in the last few years alone.

“We know just how important these events are in showcasing our iconic waterfront to the world, and to host The Ocean Race in 2022 would be a fantastic coup for the whole city region. We look forward to working closely with our partners on the UNESCO World Heritage Waterfront, the Wirral and wider city region to really impress the delegation this week and ensure we are successful in our bid!”

Liverpool Waterfront