Crowds throng Londonderry’s quayside to welcome Clipper Race fleet

The Clipper yacht Derry-Londonderry-Doire arrives at the finish line at the mouth of the Lough on her way into her home port after leg eight of the round the world race from New York. Picture Martin McKeown. Inpresspics.com. 06.07.14

The Clipper yacht Derry-Londonderry-Doire arrives at the finish line at the mouth of the Lough on her way into her home port after leg eight of the round the world race from New York. Picture Martin McKeown. Inpresspics.com. 06.07.14

The Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council said she was thrilled to welcome the Clipper Race fleet to the city following the teams’ arrival after battling the elements around Rathlin Island in a fight to the finish for first place in the Legenderry Finale Race.

The inclement conditions pushed the Derry~Londonderry~Doire into second position, after a neck and neck race to the finish line in Greencastle, before the yachts made their way up the Foyle to Londonderry where they received a hero’s welcome.

It was a gripping end to the 3,624 nautical mile race with LMAX Exchange overtaking the home team in the final stages to steal victory just 33 minutes ahead, after 16 days of racing across the North Atlantic Ocean from New York.

There were emotional scenes as hundreds lined the quayside in a wave of purple to cheer them on as the home team and the rest of the fleet travelled up the Foyle to be greeted by the Mayor and friends and family.

Speaking after their arrival the Mayor said she was delighted to see the fleet arriving after their gruelling ocean crossing from New York.

“I’ve been following the teams’ progress on the Clipper Race viewer and this has been such an exciting race with the Derry~Londonderry~Doire vying for pole position with LMAX Exchange over the past few days.

“I’m delighted that the team did so well in the Legenderry Finale, well done to Skipper Daniel Smith and all the crew who have worked so hard over the past few months and have really been doing the city proud.

“It was such an emotional moment when they reached dry land where their friends and family and of course hundreds of local supporters were waiting to greet them. They will have a couple of days to enjoy some respite now before our Foyle Maritime Festival gets into full swing at the weekend.

“We’re anticipating a very busy week ahead with a packed programme of family entertainment and a whole host of activity on both the river and at various locations throughout the city. I’m looking forward to welcoming visitors here for this huge celebration of our maritime heritage and what promises to be the highlight in the summer events calendar.”

As well as the eleven points for the second place finish, Derry~Londonderry~Doire picked up two bonus points for setting the fastest time in the Ocean Sprint bonus section of the race. The team currently sits second in the overall Clipper Race leaderboard, nine points behind leaders LMAX Exchange with two races remaining before the London Race Finish on 30 July.

The 12 Clipper Race teams will spend the next ten days here in the city where they will enjoy a number of celebratory events during their stopover before leaving for the next leg of their journey to Den Helder in the Netherlands. The colourful fleet will be one of the key attractions throughout the week with open boat tours at their base on the Foyle Marina throughout the Foyle Maritime Festival.

The celebrations will get into full swing on Saturday July 9, continuing to Sunday July 17th with a wide array of activities on land and water. The programme concludes on Saturday evening with a spectacular outdoor finale event on the Foyle, The Voyage of Sunniva, before the fleet depart in a colourful Parade of Sail on Sunday July 17 at 1pm.

The Foyle Maritime Festival is supported by Tourism Northern Ireland, Foyle Port, Loughs Agency, Diageo, DuPont Kevlar and Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs.

For more information on the full programme of events during the Foyle Maritime Festival go to www.foylemaritimefestival.com