Gavin Reid, 28, an amateur sailor who was born profoundly deaf, has beaten “his heroes”, Giles Scott, the Rio 2016 Gold Medalist, and Brian Thompson, Round the Island Race Record Holder, to be honoured as the boats.com 2016 YJA Yachtsman of the Year.
The award recognised Gavin’s heroic act of seamanship whilst competing as a crew member in the Clipper 2015-16 Round the World Yacht Race, when he came to the mid-ocean rescue of a sailor found trapped at the top of the mast on another yacht, which was not competing in the Clipper Race.
Gavin has four caps for the Scottish Deaf Rugby team and has always enjoyed challenges. Like 40 per cent of Clipper Race crew, he had no previous sailing experience before embarking on his training for the 40,000 nautical mile marathon, regarded as one of the world’s toughest endurance challenges.
The award was made following a close vote taken by members of the Yachting Journalist’s Association, and places Gavin Reid in the same category as giants of the sport, Ian Walker – Volvo Ocean Race Winner, Sir Ben Ainslie – America’s Cup Winner, and Sir Robin Knox-Johnston – the legendary solo sailor and Clipper Race founder, who have all won the boats.com JYA Yachtsman of the Year Award in the past four years.
On January 5, 2016, Gavin was racing from Sydney to the Whitsundays with his team aboard the yacht Mission Performance in Race 6 of the 14-stage, eleven month long Clipper Race series, when an SOS was picked up off the New South Wales coast of Australia from a non-Clipper Race yacht, returning from the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race which had a crewman stuck at the top of the mast.
The Mission Performance yacht was nearest to the stricken vessel and Gavin, who uses hearing aids in both ears, volunteered to swim between the two yachts, as conditions prevented transferring alongside, where he found four other crew onboard, all incapacitated and unable to help their crewmate who had been tangled in halyards at the top of the mast for several hours.
Gavin had become experienced in mast work during the Clipper Race and used the one remaining staysail halyard to hoist himself two thirds of the way up the swinging mast, then climbed the rest of the way hand-over-hand to reach the crewman, untangle the lines, and help to lower him down safely.
Gavin’s bravery has already been recognised by the Henri Lloyd Seamanship award at the Clipper Race Finish in London last summer, the RORC (Royal Ocean Racing Club) Outstanding Seamanship Award, and he was also recognised at the 2016 Australian Sailing Awards.
Clipper Race Founder and Chairman Sir Robin Knox-Johnston said: “Gavin impressed tremendously during his time on the Clipper Race. For a young man who had never sailed before he started our training, Gavin showed great commitment and never let his inexperience hold him back. He quickly developed excellent sailing skills under the guidance of his Skipper, and early on was selected to be a Watch Leader.
“The Clipper Race is highly competitive but faced with any situation where a fellow sailor on another boat was in serious trouble the crew of Mission Performance, who are fully trained with a safety first mentality, upheld the tradition of the sea that you do not hesitate to go to the assistance of another sailor in distress, setting an excellent example of seamanship which is a crucial attribute for all good ocean racing sailors.
“This is the pinnacle of British sailing awards and amongst the most prestigious accolades in the sailing world. I’m very proud of Gavin and the entire crew.”
Gavin, who quit his job as a Supply Chain Coordinator, to take part in the almost year-long Clipper Race now wants to pursue a career in sailing.
Smith, who led the Northern Irish entry to second place in the 10th edition of the race this past summer, takes up the position vacated by his predecessor Mark Light, who was named as the new race director earlier this month.
The 36-year-old from West Kilbride in Scotland helmed Derry~Londonderry~Doire to its best result in the Clipper Race thus far saw, which has seen him shortlisted for RYA Scotland’s Performance of the Year Award.
As deputy race director, Smith’s role will include managing the 12 professional skippers, leading the race office team in each of the international stopover locations, and assisting the race director with the operations and logistics of running the world’s longest ocean race.
“As well as Daniel’s experiences on the race, I was very impressed with his professional attitude and ability to perform under extreme pressure,” said new race director Mark Light. “This was a vital aspect of my hiring decision as I need to have a deputy I can trust to make sure standards and safety are adhered to at all times.
“We welcome Daniel into the Clipper Race family once more and know he will do a fantastic job in his new role.”
Light, who replaces Justin Taylor in the role after almost a decade, was previously deputy race director since 2012 after skippering the Irish entry to a strong finish in the 2011-12 edition of the race.
“I am honoured to be named race director of the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race,” said Light. “As a former skipper, I know both the challenges and the rewards it offers, and having worked as deputy race director for the previous two race editions I feel prepared and ready to lead the race into the 2017-18 edition and beyond.”
Light’s most immediate responsibilities will include appointing a new deputy race director, and trialling and selecting the 12 professional skippers for the the eleventh edition of the Clipper Race that starts next summer and is expected to be the biggest one to date.
In particular, the watchleader on the Irish entry Derry~Londonderry~Doire will discuss his key role in the successful recovery of a crew member who fell overboard in the Pacific Ocean during the 10th stage of the 2013-14 race on 30 March 2014.
The talk begins at 7.30pm sharp. For more details see the HYC website HERE.
The Oliver Cardin-skippered boat was confirmed on Friday night (29 July) as the winner of the 10th Clipper Race after losing only two points of their six-point lead to the Northern Irish challengers in the short final leg to the UK capital.
Yet despite missing out on victory honours by such a minor margin, the crew of Dan Smith's boat can hold their heads high for a race well sailed.
"We set out to win this race to London, as we have done the whole way round the world, so it is great to go out on a high," he said. "We knew our fate wasn't in our own hands so all we could do was give it our best shot and the team has proved how strong we are."
Smith added: "It's hard to believe that we have finished the race, but our aim was to be competitive, get everyone round safely and to have fun doing it. I couldn't be more proud of the crew."
Derry~Londonderry~Doire were awarded their first place pennant for their final leg win at the prizegiving ceremony in London's St Katherine Docks on Saturday (30 July).
The race village remains open for the rest of the week, giving visitors an opportunity to tour some of the Clipper 70 yachts that completed this incredible circumnavigation for Corinthians.
The River Foyle was a blaze of colour yesterday as hundreds lined the quayside to bid farewell to the Clipper Race teams as they slipped lines and set sail for the penultimate stage of their global adventure.
It was an emotional send off after a week of celebrations as the city played host to the crew of the 12 yachts during their stopover in the city. Over 145,000 people are estimated to have enjoyed the packed programme of nautical themed activities during the Foyle Maritime Festival which took over the city from July 9-17.
The event concluded with a spectacular outdoor event on Saturday evening, the Voyage of Sunniva – Night of the Two Moons, an atmospheric performance featuring aerial performers, an illuminated flotilla of boats on the Foyle, fireworks and animation, retelling the story of the medieval maritime heroine Sunniva.
On Sunday the city turned out en masse to give the fleet a final send off after a memorable week for both the crew and the thousands who shared in the welcome celebrations, as they took part in a stunning Parade of Sail before their final departure.
The Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council, Alderman Hilary McClintock, led the city in waving off the fleet as it made its way back up the Foyle to the official race start at Greencastle.
Speaking after the event Mayor McClintock said the festival had been a major success for the region. “It was a sad moment as we waved farewell to the Clipper Race fleet today after an eventful week of celebration. We have welcomed visitors from all over the world over the past week and it has been fantastic to see Derry~Londonderry profiled in such a positive way on a global platform. Once again we’ve demonstrated our ability to stage an international event generating substantial revenue for the local economy, and enhancing the region’s profile as an exciting and unique visitor destination.
“I’ve been told that the crew have really enjoyed their warm welcome and have been overwhelmed by the hospitality shown by local businesses and the people here. We have the opportunity now to build on the successes of the past few years in hosting events such as the Foyle Maritime Festival, and to explore our options in terms of utilising our many wonderful resources such as the River Foyle as part of a long-term tourism strategy for the future.
“I want to thank Council, Clipper Ventures, Foyle Port, the Loughs Agency, our sponsors and support agencies, as well as our citizens and visitors for making this such a special celebration for the city. Good luck to Daniel and all the Derry~Londonderry~Doire team in the final stages of the race – you have the support and best wishes of the entire district behind you.”
This is the third time the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race has included Derry~Londonderry as a stopover city, and the celebrations around the visit have now become an established highlight of the city’s events programme, with plans currently being developed to host the Foyle Maritime Festival annually.
Festivals and Events Manager with Derry City and Strabane District Council, Jacqueline Whoriskey said: “We are absolutely delighted that once again we have delivered a first class international events programme showcasing our beautiful city and reaching new audiences.
“The Clipper Race has certainly captured the imagination of local people and we’ve had amazing support from our local businesses and partners in staging the Festival, which has attracted fantastic visitor numbers this year.
“I’m looking forward now to exploring ways to build on the momentum created by the Maritime Festival in our future events, and ways to celebrate and showcase our beautiful district and our many exceptional visitor experiences.”
Clipper Race chairman and founder, Sir Robin Knox Johnston said “You can see what the race means to the people of Derry-Londonderry because thousands have lined the banks of the River Foyle to see the fleet off today and there was a huge cheer for every team as they left the marina. It’s just enormous and this stopover has got better every time we have come here. This has definitely been the best yet given the reception the crew have had here all week, it’s been fantastic to see the crowds and support! Frankly, you can’t help but enjoy it.”
The Clipper Race teams are now speeding their way to Den Helder in the Netherlands in the penultimate race in the year-long challenge, before they complete their journey arriving at the race finish in London on Saturday 30 July. The Derry~Londonderry~Doire team is currently second in the overall Clipper 2015-16 Race and in with a fighting chance of being placed among the top three teams having blazed a trail across the globe with an outstanding performance under the command of Skipper Daniel Smith.
Alison Boeree, who has competed in six of the eight legs of the race on board Derry~Londonderry~Doire said: “We have all had the best ever time here. Nothing else compares. When we walk around the city wearing our team kit, everyone would say hi and talk to us. We were made to feel very welcome, it was such a fantastic feeling.”
Mission Performance crew member Aaron Lomas says: “This has absolutely been the best stopover of my race experience. From the moment we arrived to the time we left, we have felt the profound kindness of the people of Derry-Londonderry and it really has made our experience extra special.”
Pawel Kepa, 28, from Poland who has visited every country on the Clipper 2015-16 Race route as a crew member on PSP Logistics says: “I absolutely loved the stopover here, the people were so welcoming. We had over a week so there was time to party, rest and get the boat ready. So far, I’ve noticed that the smaller cities like Derry-Londonderry really put on the best stopovers. Places like New York are cool on their own but people don’t know much about what we are doing whereas here we can sense how special it is to the city and the people. I’d never been to Northern Ireland before but I will definitely come back to explore some more, it’s beautiful and I still have so much to see.”
Events commence at 1.30pm on the day with water-based demonstrations by the coastguard helicopter, drone aircraft and others, while on land, mountain rescue teams will go through the basics of dangerous cliff-face operations.
The weekend continues with the Clipper Family Fun Day in nearby Greencastle on Sunday 17 July from 3pm-5pm, part of a week of celebrations for the Foyle Maritime Festival awaiting the arrival of Derry~Londonderry~Doire and the rest of the Clipper Race fleet.
Inishowen News has a full rundown of the IMSARC itinerary HERE.
The crew of Derry–Londonderry–Doire are hoping for a rare home port win as they depart New York for Derry-Londonderry in the Atlantic Homecoming Leg of the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race.
Led by Scottish Skipper Daniel Smith, the Northern Irish entry is currently second in the overall race standings and so far has recorded three victories in this 14-race global series. Today the twelve-strong fleet of Clipper 70 racing yachts has departed New York for Race 12, the LegenDerry Finale which will see the teams arrive into Lough Foyle between 7 – 11 July.
On board are three local crew members from Derry-Londonderry along with many more from across Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.
Before departing Liberty Landing Marina and taking part in a spectacular Parade of Sail in front of the Statue of Liberty and Manhatton skyline, Derry~Londonderry~Doire Skipper Daniel Smith said: “We’re getting into the home stretch now and heading for our home port of Derry-Londonderry. We’ve been really proud to fly the flag for the city all around the world and are really excited for the welcome we are going to get when we sail up the River Foyle and celebrate our final crossing at the Foyle Maritime Festival.
“It’s now one year since we were last in Derry-Londonderry for our team building weekend and we got such a warm welcome then that we even had crew who weren’t already on this final leg sign up so they could arrive into the city on board Derry~Londonderry~Doire. It’s going to be a very special stopover for all of us and will be driving us forward as we race across the Atlantic Ocean.
“The race is incredibly tight now with all the podium positions still up for grabs. We are going to be putting everything into the LegenDerry Finale and hoping, at the very least, that we can maintain our second place in the Overall Race Standings.”
Making up some of the 22 man crew on board are Derry-Londonderry natives Kieran Lynch, Danny Bryce and Sinead Diver.
Kieran, 36, is a fitter and welder on boats and had done some sailing in Lough Foyle before embarking on his Clipper Race adventure which started in Seattle in April. For Danny and Sinead, learning to sail is a completely new experience and the four weeks of compulsory training in Gosport gave them their first taste of life on the ocean waves. Both have joined the team in New York and will be sailing past their homes as they arrive into Derry-Londonderry in early July.
Before departing New York, Sinead, 33, said: “I didn’t know anything about sailing before starting my training at the race. I’d seen the yachts arrive into Derry a couple of years ago and something about it made me want to get involved but I thought I wouldn’t have enough experience of the finances to do it. But I saved and signed up for the training, and now here I am about to race across the Atlantic Ocean.
“I’ll have a lump in my throat when we finish and are sailing up the River Foyle. It’s not like this is a normal holiday and then I’m just arriving home again, the fleet will be coming in and I’ll be on board with our Derry~Londonderry~Doire team. Four or five years ago I would never have through I’d be able to do this. I looked at the crew that sailed into Derry the last time with complete admiration for the challenge they had taken on. So I feel very proud that I’ll be among them on this race,” she added.
Danny Bryce, 40, is the fifth and final Derry City and Strabane District Council bursary candidate to sail a leg of the Clipper 2015-16 Race. Danny won his berth after being nominated for the local hero ‘Voice of the Community’ scheme for the work he does with vulnerable young people in the city.
“Personally working with people so closely on a day to day basis I think the Clipper Race experience will offer a great opportunity to learn more about overcoming adversity as part of a team, and the psychology and logistics of living and working in such a restricted environment for such a prolonged period.
“Everyone has been so supportive, but I know that the most difficult thing for me will be leaving my family behind. So the fact that I will be coming back into Derry for a homecoming welcome is a real bonus. It will be emotional knowing that my family will be waiting for me on the quayside.”
This 3,100 nautical mile marathon across the Atlantic Ocean is due to begin at 1900 local time on Monday 20 June (2300 UTC) with a Le Mans start off the Ambrose Lighthouse led by Skipper Matt Mitchell on ClipperTelemed+. Having raced over 37,000 nautical miles the round the world Skippers and crew are embarking on the final ocean crossing of their circumnavigation and they know that an almighty welcome awaits at the Foyle Maritime Festival which runs from 9 – 17 July.
Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council, Alderman Hilary McClintock was in New York to meet the Clipper Race crew ahead of its arrival into the city for the third consecutive race.
“The welcome the Clipper Race teams have received in our city in the past can only be described as phenomenal – thousands of people came out to watch the fleet as it sailed up the River Foyle and this was followed by a week of festivities. This year the Foyle Maritime Festival is set to be bigger and better than ever as it starts within the city walls before moving out along the quayside and stretching across the river to Ebrington Square.
“We are very proud of the Derry~Londonderry~Doire team and how Skipper Daniel Smith and all his crew are performing the race. It is reflective of their good team spirit, excellent leadership and positive attitude. At the crew brief before the start of the LegenDerry Finale, I told the crew that Derry-Londonderry will host a homecoming to remember. We want them to take care of each other, be safe and most of all enjoy the experience of being part of this once in a lifetime opportunity.”
150,000 people visited the Clipper Race stopover two years ago and the Foyle Maritime Festival was crowned Best Event/Festival Experience title at the prestigious 2015 Northern Ireland Tourism NITA Awards.
The closing stages of The LMAX Exchange – RACE of THE AMERICAS is turning into an incredibly tough finale. In contrast to the strong winds of Tropical Storm Colin, light, variable conditions are requiring constant sail changes and with the racing so tight, teams are feeling intense pressure knowing leaderboard positions are far from secure.
With the first teams expected to arrive in New York this afternoon (evening UTC), the yo-yo battle for line honours continues. ClipperTelemed+ now leads Garmin by a slim 5NM margin. With both teams vying for their first race win and with just 70NM to go, Garmin Skipper Ashley Skett, is certainly one of those feeling the pressure having seen a 10NM lead slip away overnight.
He reports: “I've lost count of the number of sail changes that we have completed today, it seems that we can't even sail for an hour without a reefing exercise or headsail change. With the race for first place so close, it's important that I make the right calls at the right time but in such variable conditions that can be tricky.
“In preparation for some heavy winds that were forecast, we switched to our smallest Yankee late this evening. Unfortunately, ten minutes after we had made the change, the wind dropped right off and we were dead in the water so immediately had to switch back to our biggest headsail, the Yankee 1.
“For now we can just hope that this mistake doesn't end up costing us when we cross the finish line tomorrow morning.”
Visit Seattle remains third, aiming for its first ever podium finish, but the team is well aware that GREAT Britain is in pursuit just 18NMs behind, looking to ruin the party.
In his report this morning, Skipper Huw Fernie notes: “This is yet another race that just keeps giving. We're driving as hard and fast as we can for the finish line but find that the winds are changing faster than we can keep up with our sail changes. Added to that we've had currents pushing us in all directions at different points in the day and it's no wonder that our track is more like a slalom than ever before.
“The mostly reliable forecast even has a few more little shifts in store for us before we are done. We have 150 nautical miles to go, have logged over 7000 since the start of this leg in Seattle, and are nervously holding our 20 nautical mile lead over GREAT Britain.”
The fluky conditions mean teams have all left to race for. LMAX Exchange is in fifth place, just 10NMs behind GREAT Britain but will have a 1 hour 10 minute time penalty applied to their finish time after it infringed race rules when it sailed within the 12 mile exclusion of Haiti.
Derry~Londonderry~Doire in sixth, is 5NM behind LMAX Exchange, and Da Nang - Viet Nam is seventh, within 10NM of Derry~Londonderry~Doire.Further back Qingdao is in eighth place but has Unicef just 7NM behind in ninth.
One Skipper hoping to use the fluky conditions to their benefit is Mission Performance’s Skipper Greg Miller. Currently in eleventh place with tenth place PSP Logistics just 3NMs ahead, he says: “After the Ocean sprint win, the Warriors are eager to capitalise and catch a few of the fleet before we cross the finish line so we are still pushing hard and fast.
PSP Logistics came up a number of times on the AIS (Automatic Identification System) today and we seem to be closing in on them with help of the Gulf Stream. With luck we will have a visual with them soon.”
The podium is complete after the Clipper Race fleet's tough North Pacific Ocean crossing from Qingdao, China to Seattle, USA.
Northern Irish entry Derry~Londonderry~Doire won its third consecutive race, finishing the Seattle Pacific Challenge and a hat trick at 0915 local time/1615 UTC, 13 April.
The Unicef team recorded its best ever result and first podium of the race series, finishing in second place after a duel with LMAX Exchange at 2052 local time, Wednesday 13 April/0352 UTC Thursday 14 April.
The team, representing the world's leading children's organisation, managed to hold off LMAX Exchange after just a few nautical miles separated the two yachts in the final stages of the 5,400 nautical mile race.
Northern Irish entry Derry~Londonderry~Doire won its third consecutive race
LMAX Exchange crossed the finish line at 2155 local time Wednesday 13 April/0455 UTC Thursday 14 April in third place.
The professional Skippers leading each of the 12 teams have reported the worst conditions they have ever experienced on this race from China's Olympic sailing city, with the yachts pounded by huge seas and winds gusting over 80 miles per hour, causing injury and damaging the yachts.
GREAT Britain finished Race 9 in fourth position. Skipper Peter Thornton sent notification to the Race Office to say the team had finished at 1127 UTC on Thursday 14 April.
The remaining eight teams are due to be welcomed into Seattle over the next six days, including home port entry Visit Seattle.