Crews gather at Tower Bridge for biggest yacht race

Image caption The boats passed the Thames Barrier on the way to Tower Bridge

Yachts have gathered at London's Tower Bridge ahead of the world's longest yacht race.

The Clipper Round the World Yacht Race, to begin on 1 September, will see 12 teams of sailors covering 40,000 miles and six continents before returning to the capital next July.

It is the longest in terms of distance and duration of any yacht race.

A race village has been set up at St Katharine Docks and the public will be able to inspect boats due to take part.

Some 670 crew members from more than 40 nations will compete in the race.

'Jewel in the crown'

The sailors are mostly novices, although each boat will be skippered by a professional.

Once the flotilla departs from under the shadow of the Tower of London it will take in Brazil, South Africa, Australia, China, the US and Jamaica, before ending where it began.

It is the first time the biennial race will have both started and finished in London.

Clipper Race founder Sir Robin Knox-Johnston said the competition was a "jewel in the crown of world sailing".

He went on to call it "the only race in the world that takes everyday people and turns them into ocean racers".

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