SOUTHAMPTON has been chosen to host a unique event marking the 50th anniversary of the first Whitbread Round the World Yacht Race.

The 30,000-mile Ocean Globe Race, which aims to evoke the spirit of the early Whitbread contests, will start and finish at Ocean Village.

On September 10 more than 160 sailors aboard 15 yachts will embark on the gruelling contest.

Daily Echo: In 2017 Tracy Edwards was reunited with Maiden after the 58ft yacht was shipped back to SouthamptonIn 2017 Tracy Edwards was reunited with Maiden after the 58ft yacht was shipped back to Southampton (Image: Christopher Ison)

Described as a retro-race, the four-leg route will embrace some of sailing's greatest challenges, including the notorious Cape Horn off South America.

Crews will stop in Cape Town, Auckland and Punta del Este before returning to Southampton next year.

Supporters of the event say it aims to recreate the sense of "amateur adventure" that was lost during the evolution of modern round-the-world races.

READ MORE: Tracy Edwards raising funds to restore 58ft yacht on which she achieved sailing glory

Organiser Don McIntyre said: "It's a fully crewed, seven-month adventure on existing production-built ocean racing yachts designed before 1988.

"There will be no computers, satellites, or GPS. Instead, entrants will rely on sextants, leadership, teamwork and pure determination to push themselves and each other to the limit and beyond."

The yachts will include six previous Whitbread entrants and one Whitbread winner.

Daily Echo: The Ocean Globe Race will start and finish at Ocean Village in SouthamptonThe Ocean Globe Race will start and finish at Ocean Village in Southampton (Image: Newsquest)

The only UK entrant is Tracy Edwards, 60, who in 1989/90 skippered the first all-female crew in the history of the Whitbread race.

Her Hamble-based yacht Maiden won two of the six legs and came second in her class overall - the best result for a British boat since 1977.

Tracy was elevated to the status of national heroine, becoming the first woman to receive the Yachtsman of the Year Trophy.

READ MORE: Legendary round-the-world yacht returns to Southampton after 27 years

Nine years ago she embarked on a quest to restore her famous boat after discovering it had fallen into disrepair on an island in the Indian Ocean.

Speaking at the time she said: "When we formed the Maiden crew I had to take out a mortgage just to buy the boat.

"I had no choice but to sell her at the end of the race which was very sad. I sold her to someone who looked after her well but she was then passed to someone who didn’t.

"It's been heartbreaking seeing her gradually rot away unloved."

Her mission to restore the boat was backed by household names including Duran Duran singer and Simon Le Bon and Virgin Media boss Richard Branson.

In 2017 Maiden was shipped back to Southampton before being towed to Hamble, where it underwent a major refit.