HOST PORT: The Clipper Round the World Race will call into Abell Point Marina in January 2018.
HOST PORT: The Clipper Round the World Race will call into Abell Point Marina in January 2018. Contributed

Marina effort pays off

PLANS for a fireworks gala, a regional rodeo, two weeks of festivities and, most importantly, the celebration of a global nautical event, will propel organisers and the Whitsunday community towards next January's arrival of the international Clipper Round the World Yacht Race, the biggest event of its kind on the planet.

Abell Point Marina general manager Luke McCaul said when the boats stopped by in 2016, it was purely a stopover.

However this year, organisers - spearheaded by the marina- have secured port sponsorship for the event, which can now be branded as the Whitsundays Clipper Carnival, expected to attract more than 4000 tourists to the region for the final stop in the Australian leg of the yachts' 11-month odyssey.

"We did a lot to show the Clipper organisers what we have here in the region,” Mr McCaul said.

"The representatives flew up and we took them on helicopter flights around the region, had them meet with key stakeholders and gave them lots of information about the proximity of the marina to the main street and the availability of shopping centres and supplies.”

Abell Point Marina owner Paul Darrouzet also went to London to meet with the Clipper CEO and discuss possibilities for the future.

During the event's seven-day stopover in 2016 crew and organisers were able to soak up some of what the region had to offer including visits to local restaurants, bars, jet ski outings and reef trips, and realised it would be perfect as a sponsored port.

Mr McCaul said as funds were needed to secure the sponsorship, Abell Point Marina engaged the help of the Whitsunday Regional Council, Tourism Whitsundays and Tourism and Events Queensland.

The devastating economic effects of Cyclone Debbie halted the area's ability to raise funds.

However, Mr McCaul said the crew at Clipper were keen to support the north Queensland region and help boost its efforts to stimulate its own economy.

Clipper therefore reduced the amount required for port sponsorship and an agreement was made.

Mr McCaul said the direct economic benefit to the area in 2016 was $770,000.

"We're hoping we can at least double that in 2018 in regards to economic contribution to the region,” he said.

Next year's race, the biennial event's 11th edition, will start in Liverpool, UK, on August 20, and visit six continents, with the global route including stopovers in South America, Cape Town, Fremantle, Sydney, Hobart, the Whitsundays, Sanya and Qingdao in China, Seattle, Panama and New York in the United States, and Derry Londonderry.

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