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Displaying items by tag: Clipper Round The World Race

After securing a fourth place win during the most challenging leg so far as part of the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race, local bursary representative Matthew Plummer is preparing to join up with members of the Derry~Londonderry yacht this week and represent his city in the seventh leg of the challenge.

The fully qualified Goalkeeping coach and UEFA "B" License holder is one of five successful Derry City Council sponsored bursary representatives to take part in the Race through the KICKSTART to Work programme. Matt is busy getting his bags packed this weekend to fly to San Francisco to meet up with his team mates before departing early next week on his journey through the Panama Canal to New York for an estimated 48 days non-stop race sailing.

It's a challenge that Matt is very much looking forward to. "The last leg across the Pacific Ocean was a very challenging one and the team did fantastic to secure a fourth place win in such challenging and difficult conditions. It was an amazing achievement for everyone on board the Derry yacht and I am really looking forward to catching up with them at the weekend and finding out all about it. "

Matt has been busy preparing for his challenge over the past number of months, keeping in regular contact with the crew through the sailing blog and checking their progress regularly. He has been keeping fit and getting himself motivated and prepared for spending time at sea.

"It is quite a daunting thought being on board a small yacht for such a long time but I have building myself up to it for so long and now the time has come! I just can't believe I'm going. I am really looking forward to it, it's going to be an amazing once in a lifetime experience and I feel privileged to be representing my city in such a positive way."

One aspect of the challenge that Matt is not looking forward to is the watch rota system on board the vessel. "The watch rota is going to be a bit of a challenge for me I think but I will get used to it and I know each watch will be very intense but by working together as a team we will be able to overcome any challenges that we meet. I am hoping that we get a podium position in this leg, it would be a fantastic achievement to come into New York to a hero's welcome." he said.

Matt, who lived in Orlando for a two year period and worked as a soccer coach during his time there, believes the Americans will be fully behind the Derry~Londonderry team. "According to the team we have been really well received in America, they are very supportive of us and are willing us to do well in the race. It's a great opportunity for us to promote the city and encourage Americans with connections in Derry and Northern Ireland to see how we are progressing and preparing to host the UK City of Culture 2013 here in Derry."

In preparation for the challenge, Matt has undertaken a range of extensive training programmes as part of the Bursary support programme. "The training provided has been really useful in giving me a real insight into all aspects of sailing from navigating the vessel, to health and safety and sailing techniques. The training also provided us with a good opportunity to get to know the other bursary people as well as the other team members on board the Derry boat."

Matt is confident that with the support from his wife, son, all his family and friends at home and in the US the team can secure a podium place when it arrives in New York at the end of May/beginning of June. Matt is also looking forward to meeting up with his daughter in New York in June, she is currently studying at college in Arkansas and promises to be there to welcome him into New York when he completes Leg 7.

"The team are doing well out there, they are really getting stuck into the race. It would be great to get a podium position in New York, no doubt about that but at the moment I will be focusing on working hard with the team to ensure we do well in the race."

At the end of June and early July, Derry~Londonderry will host the race as a destination port when it welcomes all 10 of the participating yachts into the city. This is something Matt is looking forward to and anticipates will be a huge occasion and cause for celebration across the city and region.

Matt will be providing regular updates from the vessel via the Clipper's Facebook page Derry Londonderry Clipper 11-12 and on Twitter – DerryClipper where you can follow the team and their progress in the race.

Published in Clipper Race

After a gruelling 6,000 miles at sea crossing the world's largest ocean, Derry-Londonderry has crossed the finish line under the Golden Gate Bridge having conquered the toughest leg of the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race. Only two hours separated them from another podium place.

Despite heavy storms and waves the sizes of buildings incurred over the past 28 days crossing the mighty Pacific Ocean, Derry-Londonderry were in the top three in the majority of the race – losing out on a podium place by only two hours, as the New York entry beat them with a last minute tactical change.

However spirits were high, as the fog lifted and the sunshine appeared, as the Northern Irish entry was fourth to cross the finish line, the Golden Gate Bridge, at 2329UTC, yesterday (March 31). Skipper, Mark Light, said, "What an amazing feeling to be able to say that you've crossed the world's largest ocean. We had a great race, of which we were in the top three for the most part – and fourth place is a great result after racing the way we have done.

"We have all sorts of conditions, with strong winds about 90 per cent of the race, without any respite and the crew have had to work hard for 28 days solid. This race is long, and it's all about effort and motivation. At times you almost want to give up, but none of the crew on Derry-Londonderry did, we worked very hard and I'm very proud of all of them and myself."

Arriving into Jack London Square, Oakland after sailing through San Francisco Bay in California the crew were welcomed by friends, family and locals. They were ushered straight over to a local restaurant, who kindly hosted a long-awaited American food feast of pizza and beers – a welcomed sight after nearly a month at sea.

Round the world crew member Michelle McCann from Greencastle, Co. Donegal, said, "At the moment I've got an unbelievable sense of achievement. I'm very proud of myself and I know I did my very best – as did all of the rest of the crew.

"We've had a very hard race and it really was difficult with storms almost all the way that just kept coming. One of the main emotions that I've felt this trip is fear. I was afraid, as there were some very frightening experiences, including when the steering gear broke, as I was on the helm of the boat.

"I'm just delighted to be here and coming fourth after having crossed 6,000 miles across the Pacific is brilliant."

During the stopover in Oakland, San Francisco Bay a diverse programme awaits the crew and skippers of the ten-strong fleet, including being part of the Strictly Sail Pacific boat show hosted in Jack London Square. Sponsors will also be using the Clipper Race as a platform to do business and build relationships with California organisations.

Gold Coast Australia took first place in Race 9, Singapore second and New York third. The rest of the fleet are expected to arrive in Oakland over the next few days.

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

#CLIPPER – The extreme wind speeds, which were predicted to return and once again test the skills and endurance of the crew taking part in Clipper 11-12 Race, made a grand entrance yesterday with a variety of welcomes.

"I don't think any of the fleet will come through racing in the North Pacific Ocean in March without any damage and we are no exception!" laments Mark Light, skipper of Derry-Londonderry.

"Last night we had a near disaster and plenty of drama... We were charging along downwind with superb conditions, running before 25 knots of westerly wind with full main and Yankee 2 headsail driving us forward at about 11 knots. At about 0130 local time (these things always happen at night) we were hit by a 35 knot gust, there was a loud crack and the boat spun out of control," explains Mark.

"We instantly knew that the steering cable had parted and the boat had rounded up into wind flogging the mainsail and headsail wildly. The boom was thrashing about madly, both preventer lines, were trailing and the boat was heeled over at such an angle that the boom itself was banging into the water as we travelled forwards out of control with pace.

"Very quick action was required - importantly a drill we practice many times in our rigorous pre-race training program (nevertheless, when it happens for real the adrenaline starts pumping through your veins and the seriousness of the situation hits home)."

Mark and his crew sprang into action and began to set up the emergency tiller while another team hauled down their Yankee 2 from the foredeck. After securing the tiller which brought the boat under semi control, Mark and crew member, Tom Way, squeezed into the tiny space above the steering quadrant and set about replacing the steering cable.

"After an hour involving hydraulic bolt croppers, hacksaw and plenty of elbow grease we had successfully changed the cable, no mean feat when being constantly thrown around in the conditions like a rag doll!

"We managed to regain full control of the boat, returned to our former heading and hoisted our Yankee again. The whole episode took about two hours in which we lost an estimated 16 miles.

"Once again, no injuries, no lasting damage and we are back racing again. My crew handled the situation impeccably and we did a sterling job. Now in true Derry-Londonderry style we will push on, fully determined to make up the lost ground and get ourselves back up into those precious podium positions," signs off Mark, with his team currently occupying fourth position in the Race 9 standings.

The fleet is expected to arrive in Oakland, California between 1-7 April, where it will be hosted by the 2012 Strictly Sail Pacific Boat Show in Jack London Square. Oakland is located on the east side of San Francisco Bay.

Published in Clipper Race

#CLIPPER – The crew of the Irish yacht Derry-Londonderry are in Qingdao China and they are pictured above ahead of the Clipper round the World race start leg 9 start to Oakland, San Francisco Bay.

Following an unforgettable stopover in Qingdao, Derry-Londonderry has begun their 6,000-mile race across the Pacific Ocean to California, USA, today.

In the longest stage of the 40,000-mile circumnavigation the team will join the handful of people on Earth who have raced across the entire expanse of the largest ocean on the planet as they compete in the world's longest yacht race.

The race start, scheduled for yesterday, was postponed by the Clipper Race Committee as visibility on the water deteriorated to less than half a mile. After waiting overnight for the weather to improve, nominated lead skipper Ben Bowley on Singapore set a 'Le Mans' start and the race got underway at 0235 UTC (1035 local time) this morning.

With all of the 68-foot yachts lined up, their mainsails hoisted and headsails hanked on and ready to be raised, all the crews waited behind their coffee grinder until the signal, at which they raced forward to hoist the headsails as quickly as possible to steal a march on their competitors.

With a matched fleet and competition fierce the start was incredibly close, but Geraldton Western Australia's crew trimmed quickly to earn themselves a slight advantage.

Ahead lies a gruelling race with very tough conditions, which is expected to take approximately 30 to 35 days to complete.

Speaking before the race start, skipper of Derry-Londonderry, Mark Light, said, "This is a very long race. It's very intense living in close quarters for that long in the rough weather expected, but we are going to keep everyone on the ball, especially during the middle part of the race where crew can get a bit complacent and tired.

"The North Pacific is a beast of an ocean and I think if it wants to turn you up and throw you around a little bit it will do it, so we are as prepared as we can be."

The spectacular welcome ceremonies the individual teams received upon their arrival in Qingdao were exceeded yesterday by an even more lavish departure ceremony shown live on Chinese television. Draped in their yellow silk ceremonial cloaks and white hats, each skipper was presented with a colourful combat flag displaying the name of their team. They left the Olympic Sailing Centre to the sound of drums and thousands of cheering locals, as well as the sights of dragon dancers and fireworks.

Crew on board Derry-Londonderry felt ready ahead of starting this marathon race, among them round the world crew member and Derry-Londonderry resident, John Harkin. He said, "I feel more capable of conquering this leg than I ever have done before. We've learnt a lot at sea so far and we've got a good team on board.

"They have all been talking about the mighty Pacific, but to me the last leg was the biggest worry, so now that's over, I'm feeling ready for this next ride. To then finish the race under the Golden Gate Bridge will be brilliant, hopefully crossing as one of the first."

Amongst the Chinese dignitaries attending the ceremony was Madam Zang, Honorary Chairman of Qingdao Yachting Association, who wished the teams good luck on the forthcoming race. She said, "The arrival of the fleet adds to the dynamism of Qingdao, the Sailing Capital of China, and offered an opportunity to citizens to experience the charm and excitement of this top global sailing event. I wish you a safe and fast voyage across the Pacific Ocean."

The yachts are expected to arrive in Oakland, California between 1 and 7 April and will be hosted by the 2012 Strictly Sail Pacific Boat Show in Jack London Square. The Race 9 winning team will be presented with the Strictly Sail Pacific Clipper Cup on the opening day of the show, 12 April.

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

Published in Clipper Race

#CLIPPER – Derry-Londonderry, the Northern Irish entry in the Clipper 11-12 Round the World Yacht Race, has arrived in Qingdao, China, today to a hero's welcome completing one of the toughest legs of the world's longest ocean race.

The multi-coloured yacht livery made a big impact in the bright early morning sunshine and a freezing wind. The arrival reflected the Northern Irish team's 'LegenDerry' nickname as they were greeted at the Qingdao Olympic Sailing Centre with a specular ceremony including fireworks, drums and, not least, dozens of Chinese and international media who all fought to get pictures and interviews with the heroic crew.

As the team, representing the UK City of Culture 2013, stepped on to the pontoon in Qingdao after 19 days at sea in this challenging stage from Singapore, Derry-Londonderry's skipper, Mark Light, said, "That was the first red carpet I've ever walked on. We knew it was going to be a good welcome here in Qingdao, but how fantastic. So much colour everywhere and they were so pleased to see us."

The crew secured their first podium in Singapore three weeks ago, but with the tough conditions at sea, Mark is positive about their sixth place gained on this part of the race.

"I was really happy with the way we sailed. I'm very proud of my team, as this is probably the best that we've worked together to date. It's good to have a decent result after a good result reaching the podium in Singapore. We did have some tough conditions, which were very bouncy and a few scared people, but we handled it really well," he said.

The team was surrounded by dragon dancers whose performance demonstrated the respect the people of Qingdao have for the crews. Gifts of flowers, hats and scarves were given to the crew and the skipper was draped in a yellow cape, which symbolises nobleness and in ancient China it was only worn when emperors and generals set out on battle fields and returned victorious.

The Derry-Londonderry crew was visibly overwhelmed by the spectacular welcome, including round the world crew member Michelle McCann. The 58-year-old a teacher from Greencastle, Co Donegal, said, "What an amazing arrival into Qingdao. I feel like such a super star and have never had so many photographs taken of my in my life. It was so bitterly cold out on the sea and then to arrive into the sunshine and experience such a beautiful welcome was so fantastic."

The crew were formally welcomed to the city by Wang Xiulin, Vice Mayor of Qingdao. He said, "Battling treacherous waves and ferocious winds in this grim winter, you have successfully finished this harsh leg with your strong will, outstanding courage and professional sailing prowess. This remarkable feat allows the Qingdao citizens to once again experience the splendid world-class sailing event."

Yesterday the first four teams of the Clipper Round the World Yacht fleet arrived in Qingdao. De Lage Landen won for the first time, despite crossing the finish line 23 minutes after Geraldton Western Australia, the Dutch boat clinched victory because the Race Committee granted a request for seven hours redress after the yacht left the race to support Gold Coast Australia during a medical emergency. Despite the emergency the Australian entry secured third place, while Singapore arrived in fourth place.

During the stopover in Qingdao a diverse programme of cultural activities awaits the crew and skippers of the ten-strong fleet, including meeting local families and ceremonial activities, as well as sponsors using the Clipper Race as a platform to do business and build relationships with Chinese organisations.

The rest of the Clipper 11-12 Round the World Yacht Race fleet are expected to arrive in Qingdao over the next few days.

This is the fourth time the city has sponsored an entry and hosted the Clipper Race fleet. Qingdao recently signed a contract to sponsor two more races until 2016 to build on its legacy as the sailing venue of the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games and to continue to strengthen its brand as China's sailing city.

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

#CLIPPER–The ecstatic Derry-Londonderry crew have sailed into in Batam, Indonesia, after securing second place in Race 7 in the Clipper 11-12 Round the World Yacht Race. It is the team's first podium finish of their campaign.

The crew arrived in Nongsa Point Marina just after Gold Coast Australia who secured their sixth victory of the 15-race competition. They will wait here for the other eight 68-foot yachts competing in the world's longest ocean race before all ten cross the Singapore Straits to Marina at Keppel Bay, Singapore, for a ceremonial arrival there on Saturday 28 January.

As he arrived in the marina at 0730 local time (0030 UTC), Derry-Londonderry's skipper, Mark Light, described his joy at securing the team's first pennant of the competition.

"It feels amazing to come in second. It was a long race. We've been dying for a podium position and I knew we had it in us. To finally get it confirmed was brilliant. I just can't wait to get on the stage and accept the pennant," he said.

Explaining the pressure the team was under as they led the fleet in the South Pacific, Mark continued, "It is worse leading, I think. We are always looking over our shoulder and making sure we are doing the right things. Gold Coast Australia are quick and we knew they were going to be close and they just got us at the end."

Gold Coast Australia's skipper, Richard Hewson, paid tribute to the team who represent the UK City of Culture 2013, describing the atmosphere on board his yacht as both crews closed in on the finish line.

"It was really exciting. Towards the end I called a meeting around midnight and got everyone around. I said, 'We've got 30 miles to go and we are neck and neck with Derry-Londonderry. We either go hard now and win, or we take it easy and there is a chance that we come second.'

"The guys really pitched in and we did a 'super-watch' for a good five or six hours and in the end we only won by a bit over an hour. I think if we hadn't done that then Derry-Londonderry could have well taken us."

Gold Coast Australia finished just 79 minutes ahead of Derry-Londonderry in the 4,600-mile race from the Gold Coast.

Michelle McCann from Greencastle, Co. Donegal, said, "The race was fantastic; the best one yet. We had everything, we had plenty of wind at the start and we did really well with the right plan, strategy and tactics. Everything just worked for us.

"We deserve first I think, because we raced so well, but we just got pipped to the post. However, coming second to Gold Coast Australia, which is the fastest boat in the race, is brilliant. Just brilliant!" she beamed. "This is the start of our collection – that's how we're thinking of it!"

Clipper 11-12 is the eighth edition of the event which is 'raced by people like you'. Michelle, a teacher, and her fellow crew who include a student, an engineer, an airline pilot, a pharmacist, a project manager, a children's centre manager and a retired nutritionist, have put their everyday lives on hold to compete in the challenge of a lifetime.

Demand for berths on forthcoming editions of the race is at unprecedented levels and several hundred people have already committed to taking part in Clipper 13-14, which will see the introduction of a brand new fleet of 12 state of the art 70-foot yachts.

Published in Clipper Race

#CLIPPER – An ecstatic Derry-Londonderry crew has secured their first podium position of the Clipper 11-12 Round the World Yacht Race. The team, nicknamed the 'LegenDerrys' finished in second place while Gold Coast Australia has claimed victory in Race 7 after the Race Committee made the decision to shorten the course in the stage from the Gold Coast to Singapore.

Extremely light winds which would have prevented the race management team from setting a fair course for the second stage of Race 7, combined with an increased threat of piracy in the Singapore Straits in the light conditions over the Chinese New Year, led to the tough decision. The positions of the yachts at the Celebes Sea Gate, which marked the end of the first phase of the race from Australia, will be taken as the final standings for Race 7.

Race Director, Joff Bailey, told the teams at 0700 UTC today, "Race 7 to Celebes Sea Gate from the Gold Coast was certainly long enough at 3,200nm to qualify as a serious race. It was run fairly, you all had chances to make gains and losses and see your tactics play out and I believe it was one of the most interesting races we have run."

During the race the lead changed hands a number of times as the ten internationally-backed yachts fought for supremacy with Derry-Londonderry, Geraldton Western Australia, and Qingdao all taking their turn to lead the fleet. Gold Coast Australia's tactic of heading much further north than the other nine teams before hooking in to a favourable current allowed them to swoop into the lead in the final miles before the Celebes Sea Gate, which has now become the Race 7 finish line.

They beat Derry-Londonderry into second place by just an hour and 19 minutes, and Geraldton Western Australia claimed third place three hours and 15 minutes behind the Northern Ireland entry. Both teams have recorded their best results of the campaign.

Reacting to news of his team's sixth victory of the Clipper 11-12 Race, Tasmanian yachtsman, Richard Hewson said, "Although the race from Gold Coast to Singapore was cut 'short' I believe it was one of the most mentally challenging and frustrating races to date where any number of tactical decisions could have won the race for any of the ten yachts in the fleet. Crewmembers on Gold Coast Australia are ecstatic about their victory and we will celebrate in style on arrival in Singapore.

"I would like to thank the other yachts in the race, particularly Derry-Londonderry and Geraldton Western Australia who sailed extremely well and made the race very close and exciting."

Mark Light, skipper of the entry representing the UK City of Culture 2013, said, "What a fantastic result for us! I am so proud of each and every one of my crew. We have worked so hard as a team and although a long time coming, we always believed we had a podium finish within us. This gives us huge belief for the next race that we can push on and remain one of the front runners. For me personally it is a brilliant result: a very close second place only 80 minutes behind the overall leader.

"These races are incredibly hard to win and I would like to give massive credit to Gold Coast Australia for another huge result.

"I will be very proud to lead my team up on to the podium in Singapore to represent the good people of Derry-Londonderry and all who have supported us. Thank you very much."

The city's Mayor, Maurice Devenney, congratulating the team said, "We're very proud of the team and they deserve this achievement after their challenging sail. Their global sailing journey helps the city on its journey to tell the world about the many opportunities that exist for tourism, cultural and business connections as we get ready for becoming the inaugural UK City of Culture in 2013. We would like to send the teams our best wishes and we look forward to welcoming them all to the city as part of the race in July 2012".

It was a closely fought race, with both Qingdao and Singapore, who were aiming to be on the podium when the fleet arrives in Marina at Keppel Bay, both in contention for one of the top three places. They finished fourth and fifth respectively; Qingdao's result is a campaign-best result for the Chinese team.

Completing the finish order, De Lage Landen finished sixth, followed by New York, Visit Finland, Welcome to Yorkshire and Edinburgh Inspiring Capital.

The result means Derry-Londonderry moves up the overall table from eighth to seventh place while Gold Coast Australia's win consolidates their dominance of the competition and the team is now 20 points ahead of closest rivals, Visit Finland. Dutch entry De Lage Landen remains in third place overall.

The fleet will now proceed to Batam, Indonesia, where they will muster ahead of a spectacular ceremonial arrival in Marina at Keppel Bay, Singapore on Saturday 28 January.

Ms Wang Look Fung, Director, Group Corporate Affairs at Keppel Corporation, Singapore's Team Sponsor and Host Port Sponsor for the Singapore stopover, said, "Many Keppelites and Singaporeans are all eagerly awaiting the arrival of the Clipper Race fleet into Marina at Keppel Bay. The international event will certainly lend colour and vibrancy to Keppel Bay's appeal as a waterfront lifestyle hub with our luxurious homes, a marina playground, and a host of other waterfront amenities including Singapore's only RYA-accredited Keppel Bay Sailing Academy."

Published in Clipper Race
From this weekend, Discovery channel has confirmed that it will start screening Against the Tide, the television series about Clipper 09-10, on Discovery, Discovery HD and their +1 counterparts with the first episode scheduled to go out today (Sunday 23 October) at 6pm.

Discovery World across Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) has also been screening the series on Tuesday evenings (times may vary in different territories). Check local schedules for further information.

Published in Maritime TV
This weekend's 'Foyle Days' in the north-west city is set to welcome two offshore patrol vessels (OPV) the Naval Service LE Emer (P21) and the Royal Navy's HMS Severn (P 283), writes Jehan Ashmore.
The maritime event includes a variety of sailing organisations and accompanying craft to include the 96ft tall-ship schooner Johanna Lucretia. In addition the festival's star visitor attraction will be the inaugural call of the 68ft yacht Derry-Londonderry which is to take part in the Clipper 11-12 Round the World Yacht Race.

On the naval front, LE Emer was built in Cork's Verolme Dockyard in 1978. She represents the oldest of the eight-strong fleet and is designed from the Naval Service's first purpose built patrol vessel OPV LE Deirdre (P20) but was modified to improve her stability and speed. This vessel was decommissioned several years ago and was converted into a private yacht.

The original BOFORS 40mm L60 gun of the LE Emer was recently upgraded to a BOFORS 40mm L70 to improve range and accuracy of her main armament. She alongside her 65m sisters LE Aoife (P22) and LE Aisling (P23) where all built primarily to patrol the Irish section of the European Economic Zone (EEZ).

During their careers the 'Emer' class vessels have also completed numerous re-supply missions to Irish troops serving overseas with the United Nations and in particular in the Lebanon. A crew compliment of 46 (5 officers) operate the vessels which are all now in their fourth decade of service.

OPV HMS Severn is the third of four 'River' class offshore patrol vessels and like her Irish counterpart is deployed on fishery duties. The 1,677 displacement tonnes vessel was built in 2001 in the UK'S south coast port of Southampton at Woolston Docks. Her home port for the 30 crew is at HM Naval Base in neighbouring Portsmouth.

She becomes the fifth ship to bear the name and with sisters HMS Mersey (P 282) and HMS Tyne (P 281) they are assigned to the Fishery Protection Squadron. Click the ship's diary to follow the ship news. The final member of the River class HMS Clyde (P 257) serves as a Falklands Islands Patrol Vessel (FIPV).

Published in Navy

The Mayor, Cllr Colum Eastwood, officially welcomed the yacht, skipper and crew of Derry-Londonderry to the city at a lunchtime ceremony today. Also there to wish the team fair winds and to offer some winning words of advice was five-time Olympic gold medallist, Sir Steve Redgrave, who met the crew on board before champagne was sprayed over the yacht's bow

Skipper, Mark Light, and the crew of Derry-Londonderry are preparing for the start of the Clipper 11-12 Round the World Yacht Race which, at 40,000 miles, is the world's longest ocean race. It will begin from the south coast of England on 31 July 2011 and Derry-Londonderry will host a stopover in July 2012 when all ten of the 68-foot stripped down racing yachts and their crews will visit the city for a week-long celebration. It will be the first time a Northern Irish port has welcomed the Clipper Race fleet.

This weekend sees another first – it is the inaugural visit of the yacht to Derry-Londonderry and she will play a starring role in the Foyle Days maritime festival which is taking place until Sunday and also features ships from the Irish Navy and Royal Navy.

More than 30 of the crew who, between them, represent nine nationalities, will be visiting Derry-Londonderry over the weekend to find out more about the city for which they will be ambassadors as they circumnavigate the globe.

Welcoming the yacht and crew to the city, the Mayor, Cllr Colum Eastwood said, "This has been a tremendous week of symbolism and we have seen Ireland as a country moving forward. We have a bit of symbolism ourselves with the Irish Navy and British Navy parked side by side in a city like Derry; I think that tells its own story. It tells a story of a city that is moving forward, leading a process of reconciliation. This event, the Clipper Race, will be part of that process. It will help us put Derry on the world stage and I am so excited to see it happen. It's tremendous to see the skipper and crew of Derry-Londonderry and all the people from the city and from the navies around the world. I think it shows the commitment that we have to making this thing work. 2013 will be a huge year for our city but 2012 is shaping up to be a massive year as well."

Clipper Race Director, Jonathan Bailey, responded equally as warmly, saying, "We see our sponsors and crew, both current and past, as part of a larger family. That family includes cities and nations from across the globe, including places like Singapore, New York, Qingdao in China, Cape Town and Rio de Janeiro to name a few. We can now add Derry-Londonderry to that list and it is my pleasure to welcome the city into our family. In July next year the team will return here after travelling 40,000miles around the globe, taking the name of Derry-Londonderry to millions of people and businesses around the world. It is a unique opportunity to showcase what your city and Northern Ireland has to offer on a global stage and will increase tourism and trade in the region."

During the morning local businesses came together to find out how they might benefit during the stopover as well as exploiting international trade opportunities during the race.
Derry-Londonderry's participation in the Clipper 11-12 Race is a major part of the events programme to highlight their status as UK City of Culture 2013 and one which will provide a lasting legacy for the city in terms of both infrastructure and the economy.

The city's participation in the race is in partnership with Derry City Council, Londonderry Port and Harbour Commission and Ocean Event Management. It is supported by the Northern Ireland Tourist Board, Ilex URC and Sail West.

The Harbour Master at Londonderry Port, Captain Bill McCann, says it means a lot to the port and the local sailing community to have the longest boat race in the world coming to the Foyle. Captain McCann says they have invested heavily over the years in creating the infrastructure for events of this scale, with the development of a new pontoon in the city, "which fits perfectly into the city's strategy for marine leisure and tourism. We will be ready for the Clipper Race within six months and then the facilities at Derry will be second to none."

Bill McCann believes that the Clipper Race will renew interest in sailing and maritime events, and that it will increase the Foyle and the city's chances of securing similar large scale events in the future. "The Clipper Race will finish at the mouth of the Foyle between Greencastle in Co Donegal and Magilligan in Co Derry - it would be hard to find a more visually stunning spot on the planet, and it's an ideal start or finish point for any race."

Derry-Londonderry will be berthed on the Foyle Pontoon, Queen's Quay until Sunday 22 May when church leaders will lead a fleet blessing at 12.30pm. There is an opportunity to find out more about how to become a Clipper Race crew member from the race team who will be at the Foyle Days festival. Berths are now available for Clipper 13-14 and beyond.

Published in Clipper Race
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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.


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