Londonderry crew is homeward bound at last

Londonderry skipper Sean McCarter says it’s going to be a unique experience sailing into his home port in less than a fortnight after setting sail from New York.

He said: “New York has been amazing, I think everyone has had a very enjoyable stopover and is raring to go for the final homecoming leg into Derry-Londonderry.

Mayor Brenda Stevenson on the Londonderry in New York.

Mayor Brenda Stevenson on the Londonderry in New York.

“I grew up there and it’s a great place to sail in to but to do it as the skipper of the home team, and preferably in first place, is something I will remember for the rest of my life and I know the crew will too.

“I have been trying to prepare the crew for the stopover, as everyone knows what an incredible welcome the city put on for the fleet during the Clipper 2011-12 Race. If what everyone tells me is true, it’s going to be even bigger this time around – truly legenDerry!”

The race is crewed exclusively by amateur sailors and has earned a reputation as one of the world’s toughest endurance challenges. Only the skippers are professionals. Over 250 crew are participating in this final leg which is split into 3 stages.

Leg 8 crew member, Breidge Boyle, originally from Londonderry couldn’t hide her excitement ahead of Race 14 start: “I’m very, very excited and a little bit apprehensive.

“The Atlantic crossing is a huge undertaking and the final ocean crossing also means that the Clipper 2013-14 Race is coming to an end which is sad for all of us.

“As team we know we can do it and all we want it to be stood on a podium for our homecoming race to Derry-Londonderry.”

The 2,850 mile race across the North Atlantic presents a number of risks: there is the potential for storms and some very fast sailing, thick fog and light winds at the Grand Banks as the Labrador Current drags down cold water from the Arctic, which also brings with it the risk of icebergs.

The fleet is also likely to sail over the Flemish Cap made famous in the book and film The Perfect Storm.

The Clipper Race fleet is expected to arrive in Derry-Londonderry from June 21. The LegenDerry Maritime Festival which features The Beach Boys and the Red Arrows runs until the fleet departure on June 29.

Race 15 sees the fleet sail from Northern Ireland across the top of the UK around the Scottish coastline and into the North Sea to Den Helder in the Netherlands where it will stay until 10 July.

Race 16 in the global series is the final sprint to London where the Clipper Race will complete its epic journey at Tower Bridge on July 12.

The Londonderry currently sits in fourth place on the overall Clipper Race leader board and will be hoping to pick up valuable extra points in these last three races to get them onto the podium for the finish.

The location of the yachts can be followed live on the Clipper Race Viewer: