#Clipper - Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council Elisha McCallion joined Clipper Round the World Yacht Race founder and chairman Sir Robin Knox-Johnston earlier today (Friday 1 May) for the naming ceremony of the Derry-Londonderry-Doire yacht entry in the 2015-16 edition.
The ceremony at the race’s Gosport headquarters in Portsmouth Harbour also saw the yacht's skipper named as 31-year-old Daniel Smith from Scotland.
Smith is an experienced yachtsman and instructor and will lead the team on its 40,000-mile, 11-month ocean race series, which gets underway on Sunday 30 August from London.
Today's event was also attended by the four winners of the council’s ‘Your Next Chapter’ bursary scheme.
Jilly St John, David Pollock, Keelin O’Kane and Conor Shortland start their race training tonight and will each sail a leg of the Clipper 2015-16 Race aboard Derry-Londonderry-Doire.
“They are all about to embark on a journey that will change their lives," said Sir Robin. "I founded the Clipper Race in 1996 to give people the chance to sail around the world, experience the wonders and challenges of Mother Nature, and the satisfaction that comes from the achievement of crossing the world’s oceans.
“As the bursary winners begin their four weeks of race training, they will be tested like never before but the confidence and skills they will glean from the experience will stand by them for the rest of their lives and provide them with unforgettable memories.”
Derry-Londonderry will be a host port for the third consecutive time and will welcome the whole Clipper Race fleet after its final Atlantic Ocean crossing next summer.
Mayor McCallion said she was happy to be part of the naming ceremony and to meet the skipper.
“The city and district is hugely excited to be participating in the Clipper 2015-16 Race and to welcoming the race back to the city next summer," she said.
“The LegenDerry Maritime Festival was a significant celebration for us, it captivated our entire city and left a lasting legacy. We are very pleased to have skipper Daniel Smith on our team and delighted that he will be involved in the training of our four local bursary scheme winners.”
Smith is taking a career break from his role as senior yachting and Watersports Instructor for SportScotland’s National Centre at Cumbrae to lead his amateur crew around the world.
Speaking about his appointment for the first time, he said: “I’m really excited to be named the Derry-Londonderry-Doire skipper. There are strong sailing links between Scotland and Northern Ireland and that is a relationship we hope to share with our international crew as we sail around the world.
“I’ve heard that there is always a warm welcome in Derry-Londonderry for the Clipper Race fleet and I’m already looking forward to sailing up the River Foyle in front of the home crowd.
"It’s also great that I will be taking Jilly, Keelin, David and Conor for their level-one training this week because it means we have got lots of time to get to know each other too."
The ‘Your Next Chapter’ bursary scheme was open to people aged 18 and over who are currently unemployed, participating in an employability programme, or in receipt of benefits, and living in the Derry City and Strabane District Council area.
It follows the success of a previous bursary project organised by Derry City Council in partnership with the Clipper Race in 2011-12 in which four out of the five participants secured full-time employment through Derry City Council’s KickStart to Work Intermediary Labour Market Programme.
The Clipper 2015-16 Race marks the tenth edition of the world famous event. It sets sail from London on 30 August 2015 and will visit the Foyleside city next summer, marking its third team entry and hosting of the international sporting competition.