A MAJOR new yacht race could help to sell Newport as a top destination by linking its landmark transporter bridge with the oldest surviving moveable bridge in the world.

The yacht race between the transport bridges of Newport and Bilbao, Spain, would cost tens of thousands of pounds to organise and require major sponsorship to attract the world's top yatchsmen.

Sailing teams would simultaneously leave Newport and Bilbao in a round trip race pitting sailors along Spain's Bay of Biscay, which is said to be one of the most dangerous stretches of water in the northern hemisphere.

Xanadu Productions, an event company which organises the annual Elvis Presley Festival in Porthcawl, South Wales, is seeking to involve racing associations and teams with a view to launching the inaugural race in 2014.

Xanadu boss Peter Philips, 55, told the Argus: "It's an idea we are now progressing and it has the support of high ranking members of the yachting community.

"It's going to take a minimum of 12 months to put together.

"It would be nice for Wales to have a race of this profile. It's a work in progress."

The race would link teams and individual yatchsmen and women between the 1906 transporter bridge in Newport and the world's oldest surviving transporter bridge, the Vizcaya bridge built in Portugalete, Bilbao, in 1893.

The event would boost tourism by bringing extra visitors to the Newport transporter bridge and highlight the historical links between Newport and the Basque region of Spain, where the Medieval Newport Ship may have been built.

It would also remind people how Newport sheltered children refugees from the Basque region during the Spanish Civil War in 1937.

David Hando, 75, the chairman of the Friends of Newport Transport Bridge, said: "It would be marvellous if it could happen.

"It would bring visitors to the city and arouse a tremendous amount of interest."

Charles Ferris, of Friends of the Newport Ship, thought of staging the yacht race during a conversation about improving cultural links between Newport and the Basque region.

He said: "It would certainly separate the men from the boys. It would be a gruelling race. It would probably take about two weeks."