Fastnet yacht race hailed as a perfect warm-up to Plymouth's City of Culture bid
A PRESTIGIOUS yacht race will highlight Plymouth's growing international reputation for staging major events, according to local business leaders.
Plymouth will once again get the chance to prove it is equipped to host high-profile gatherings when it welcomes the finish of the Rolex Fastnet Race in August. The race takes place every other year, and the news that it will return to Plymouth has been greeted as recognition that the city is ready to launch its bid to become UK City of Culture 2017.
Tim Jones, chairman of the Heart of the South West Business Partnership, said: "This is another major high-profile event for Plymouth. The fact that Plymouth keeps attracting these really massive international events is testament to how good we are at doing this.
"Plymouth is developing into a major creative and cultural complex, and the bid for City of Culture feeds into that.
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"The most important thing is not to look at this in isolation. This really enhances the big picture. If you stop anyone in the street, particularly with a business hat on, they would say this is good for business."
The eyes of the world will be trained on Plymouth in the closing stages of the race during the week of August 12 to 17, just as they were when the Fastnet race was last here in 2011.
Mr Jones said: "It's about enhancing the Plymouth brand to a bigger audience, showing that Plymouth is a place to invest in, which makes a massive difference. The fact that Plymouth can deal with this stuff without breaking a sweat is very important. We have the right infrastructure in place for managing it, the city is perfectly gift-wrapped now."
Plymouth Yacht Haven at Mount Batten has been selected to be the Fastnet finish line, and other marinas will also be involved.
Adrian Vinken, chairman of the Plymouth culture board, said: "Plymouth has a proven track record of hosting events of this nature, and this is a great boost for the whole city as we prepare our bid to become the UK's City of Culture for 2017."
David Parlby, chief executive of Plymouth Chamber of Commerce, said: "These sorts of events help promote Plymouth as a centre for marine leisure. It will bring a lot of visitors to the city, which ties in with our strategy in terms of making Plymouth a tourism destination."
Gary Streeter, MP for Devon South West said: "This helps to put Plymouth firmly on the map, and it ties in with the new logo of 'Britain's Ocean City'."