The round the world Clipper Race sets off from Liverpool today.
The Clipper Village on the Mersey waterfront has been giving people the chance to see crews carrying out final minute preparations ahead of the race which gets underway at lunchtime.
The fleet of 70ft ocean-going yachts arrived in the city on Monday, coinciding with the opening of the Clipper Village, and was given an official civic welcome.
During the week, there have been a series of events and activities for the public to enjoy including free talks about the Clipper Race, and the chance to look around one of the racing yachts.
The race day will begin with a Slipping Lines ceremony at 9.15am at the Albert Dock, before all 12 yachts and their UK and international crews form a spectacular parade of sail on the River Mersey from 11.15am.
The Clipper 2027-18 Race itself will get officially underway at 12.30pm when a start gun will mark the start of the hotly-contested competition.
The Liverpool 2018 Clipper and skipper Lance Shepherd
One crew member who is particularly happy to be setting sail from Liverpool is Paul Almond, who grew up in Formby, and who is sailing in the first half of the race from the Mersey to Australia.
He says: “When I was 11, I learned to sail Laser and Enterprise dinghies on the very safe and enclosed Southport Marina.
“I also have fond memories of spending many Friday nights as a teenager going to Liverpool Empire to watch my favourite bands, and I had fun busking on Lord Street with a guitar and poor vocals!”
Clipper Race founder and chairman, round the world yachtsman Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, said: “Liverpool is an incredibly proud and vibrant community and we’ve had fantastic experiences here in the past which is why we were so keen to return.
Clippers in the Mersey during a previous Round the World race
“There will be plenty to see and do so we hope to everyone join us once again and help make this another truly memorable event for the city, and our crew and supporters.”
After leaving Liverpool, the Clippers will race over 3,000 nautical miles across the Atlantic to the first stopover port, Ponte del Este, Uruguay.
From there the fleet will continue back across the ocean to Cape Town, Fremantle, Sydney, Hobart and the Whitsundays, then Sanya and Qingdao in China, across the Pacific to Seattle, through the Panama Canal and up to New York, and then making the transatlantic journey to Derry-Londonderry.
They are due to return to Liverpool on July 28, 2018.