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Derry-Londonderry takes on Coast to Coast Challenge via Panama Canal

15th April 2012
Derry-Londonderry takes on Coast to Coast Challenge via Panama Canal

#CLIPPERRACE – The crew of Derry-Londonderry, one of ten teams competing in the Clipper 11-12 Round the World Yacht Race, sailed under the iconic Golden Gate Bridge today at the beginning of their final 10,000 miles of the world's longest yacht race.

This is the seventh leg of the eight leg series. Ahead lies 5,500 miles of racing from California on the U.S. West Coast to New York on the East Coast via the Panama Canal.

Leaving the marina, the morale was high on Derry-Londonderry. Ahead of leaving shore skipper Mark Light said, "This leg will be quite a contrast to the rough Pacific. We are expecting a fair bit of wind when we leave San Francisco Bay, but then it will get hotter and lighter winds are expected before we reach the Panama Canal.

"We've improved massively overall in the second half on this race and we are turning our noses towards our home port and the team are coming together well and I'm expecting another good result. It's very exciting and things are building up – there are a lot of points on offer and we need to get ourselves onto that podium a few more times. We will do what we can and hopefully won't let anyone down."

The ten strong fleet competing in the Clipper 11-12 Round the World Yacht Race left Jack London Square in Oakland today with hundreds of fans cheering them on in the warm spring sunshine, before heading out to San Francisco Bay for the start line escorted by the US Coast Guard cutter Sockeye.

Friends, family members and supporters gathered to watch from the Golden Gate Yacht Club, home of the 34th America's Cup, which kindly provided facilities to start the race from their deck at 1400 local time (2100 UTC).

There was a highly charged competitive atmosphere out on the water in the shadow of the iconic Golden Gate Bridge. So much so that three boats crossed the line prematurely and were ordered to circle back to cross it again. This gave Visit Finland an early lead, hotly pursued by the only US entry New York and the Chinese team from the Olympic sailing city of Qingdao as they jostled for position racing under the bridge and back out into the Pacific Ocean, heading south towards Panama. Derry-Londonderry passed the start line in fifth place.

Joining the crew of amateur sailors is Matt Plummer, the City of Derry Clipper Bursary crew member has enjoyed his week in port, but is ready to learn new skills and conquer the sea after many years as a professional footballer.

He said: "I'm very much looking forward to going through the Panama Canal – it's the main reason that I wanted to do this race. It's a long race with more than 5,000 miles over to New York – you can't imagine driving that far, let alone sailing it. Hopefully we will get good winds and get there fast. I really want to push the boat and we are aiming for a first place."

This has also been a highly successful stopover for a delegation from Derry-Londonderry which has been holding a number of high profile events and meetings to boost trade and tourism, especially in hi-tech sectors such as digital media and raising awareness of its role as the UK's first City of Culture in 2013.

The first boats are expected to arrive in Panama around 7 May after which they will transit the Panama Canal before commencing Race 11, for the final 2,100 miles to New York.

The race started in Southampton, UK on 31 July 2011 and will end there on 22 July 2012 after taking 51 weeks to travel over 40,000 miles visiting 15 ports of call on six continents.

Published in Clipper Race Team

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About the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race

The Clipper Round the World Yacht Race is undoubtedly one of the greatest ocean adventures on the planet, also regarded as one of its toughest endurance challenges. Taking almost a year to complete, it consists of eleven teams competing against each other on the world’s largest matched fleet of 70-foot ocean racing yachts.

The Clipper Race was established in 1996 by Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, the first person to sail solo, non-stop, around the world in 1968-69. His aim was to allow anyone, regardless of previous sailing experience, the chance to embrace the thrill of ocean racing; it is the only event of its kind for amateur sailors. Around 40 per cent of crew are novices and have never sailed before starting a comprehensive training programme ahead of their adventure.

This unique challenge brings together everyone from chief executives to train drivers, nurses and firefighters, farmers, airline pilots and students, from age 18 upwards, to take on Mother Nature’s toughest and most remote conditions. There is no upper age limit, the oldest competitor to date is 76.

Now in its twelfth edition, the Clipper 2019-20 Race started from London, UK, on 02 September 2019.