Seán Óg hAilpín met with the crew to wish them a safe and successful race and to unveil the Cork colours that will fly from the boat around the world.
Around half of the crew (pictured above) have no previous sailing experience – but what all of them have in common is that they have put their everyday lives as air traffic controllers, interior designers, taxi drivers, lawyers, and students on hold to take on this incredible challenge.
The Cork Clipper project is funded by Fáilte Ireland, Cork City Council and Cork County Council with the main objective of promoting Cork as a tourism and business destination around the world. Working alongside Tourism Ireland, Cork will be promoted to consumers, trade and the media in key markets that the race visits. The culmination of the project will be the arrival of the ten yachts in the Clipper race to Kinsale in July 2010 for eight days of festivities which will showcase Ireland to a global market.
Over the weekend the crew had the opportunity to experience Ireland with a walking tour of Cork City, kissing the Blarney stone, sampling Irish cuisine in Kinsale – the reputed gourmet capital of Ireland – and a visit to the Queenstown story in Cobh.
‘It is essential that the crew onboard the Cork Clipper know Cork and understand what is unique about Ireland as a tourism destination so they can be ambassadors on their journey around the world’, stated Fáilte Ireland General Manager, Fiona Buckley. ‘We also wanted them to experience a true ‘cead mile fáilte’ so they know what will be waiting for them when they sail into Cork next July’ continued Buckley.
For the crew this will be no walk in the park as they sail 37,000nm around the world pitting themselves against all the elements. The race will be a mixture of long, tactical ocean races where endurance is tested to the limit and short, technical sprints. Weather will range from virtually flat calm to raging seas and storm force winds, enough to test the mettle of even the bravest.
At a farewell event on Saturday the Deputy Mayor of Cork, Cllr Laura McGonigle and the Mayor of County Cork Cllr Derry Canty wished the crew a safe and successful race around the world on board the Cork Clipper.
‘We want to assure you that the people of Cork are proud of you taking on this challenge and we will be supporting you and following your progress around the world.’ stated Cllr McGonigle.
Planning has commenced for the visit to Cork of the Clipper Race in 2010 and the boats will visit Kinsale and Cork harbour over the eight days with events for everyone to enjoy.
‘We will be waiting on the dock when the boats sail into Kinsale next July and we promise that Cork will host an event that will make you proud to be part of our team’ said Cllr Derry Canty.
The crew have undertaken the Clipper training programme in preparation for the race and will sail onboard a 68 foot (20.8 metres) boat with an 89-foot mast (27.3 metres). All ten teams will sail on the same type of boat which have been designed and built the same. The boats are created for speed and safety, giving the non-professional sailors onboard an unprecedented racing challenge. With up-to-the-minute navigation centres, the latest sailing equipment and basic, racefriendly accommodation, the identical yachts put winning and losing firmly in the hands of the crew onboard.
The Cork Clipper crew age from 25 to 61 year of age and 40% of the sailors are female. Eleven of the crew will sail all legs of the race and the remainder of the crew will change on each leg. The Cork Clipper will carry 17 crew and with a watch system in operation onboard, crew will on average sleep for only 2 and a half hours at a time. The skipper of Cork Clipper is Richie Fearon from Derry who is a member of Lough Swilly Yacht Club in Donegal. Richie experienced his first success on board the Cork Clipper when he won the Clipper class in the 2009 Round the Island Race in the Isle of Wight earlier this summer with a BBC TV crew onboard from the Blue Peter programme.