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Clipper Race fleet receives a warm welcome in Derry~Londonderry

by Clipper Round the World Race 16 Jul 09:28 BST
Clipper Round the World Yacht Race 14 © Clipper Race

Foyle Marina, Derry~Londonderry is welcoming the Clipper Race fleet with open arms, after Race 14: LegenDerry finale, a fast race of over 3000nm from New York to Derry~Londonderry concluded with the first team crossing the finish line on the evening of 12 July.

The some 175 crew members, participating on Leg 8 of the 40,000nm circuit, will now enjoy all the Northern Irish charm that Derry~Londonderry has to offer, including the award-winning Foyle Maritime Festival, in which the fleet is a star attraction. Many of the crew will be enjoying being back on UK soil for the first time since leaving the UK in March this year to restart the race from The Philippines.

Race winners, GoToBermuda, and the first team to come into the marina, via the Foyle River was greeted with a warm welcome from Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council, Councillor Sandra Duffy who joined each team on board, presented them and each subsequent team with a special gift of a Clipper Race yacht planter, while Clipper Race Officials were ready and waiting with well-deserved cold beers to celebrate their arrival. The team won the close race, crossing the Finish Line at 18:50:25 UTC.

On arrival, crew member Els Sturm from The Netherlands said: "It is beautiful, especially coming into the River Foyle and looking at the landscape and we've had such a warm welcome from the people in Derry~Londonderry. The race has been an adventure, epic! We had 40-50 knot winds and high waves and ended up being chased by WTC Logistics which brought out the best of us and we managed to cross the line with just a 4 nautical mile advantage."

Fellow GoToBermuda teammate Keith Marshall adds: "We've been looking forward to this for 5 days, it felt like it wasn't getting any nearer and now we are here. It was hard work with WTC Logistics chasing us but we have a result - the fastest ever Clipper Race crossing of the Atlantic."

Coming into the marina in the order they finished the race, next to arrive was WTC Logistics, having crossed the line just twenty minutes after the front runners, proving what a close sprint across the North Atlantic it was.

On board WTC Logistics, circumnavigator Paul Widdowson excitedly exclaimed: "That was a fantastic ride - best sailing I've ever done! That trip was unbelievable - 50 knots of wind, doing over 20 knots average - it was really a buzz."

Having taken the final podium place of Race 14: LegenDerry Finale, a joyous Unicef team arrived into Foyle Marina, after having completed the race at 22:09:26 UTC.

Susan Lucas, crew member on Unicef exclaims: "It's been the best race yet - the best winds, the best surfing - it has been amazing! The arrival into Derry~Londonderry, well, I have to say has been the best entrance yet - I can't wait to get a Guinness!"

Unicef's Skipper Ian Wiggin comments: "We had beautiful conditions and really, really good teamwork. The past 48 hours were a little bit spicy, courtesy of the weather. Now I'm happy to be in Derry~Londonderry for a great time!"

On board Punta del Este, which took fourth place, crew member Lucy Gore tells us: "Our welcome's been very cool with live music, and seeing all the people greeting us has been lovely!

Reflecting on the race her team has just completed, she says: "It's so fun when the boat's moving really fast - we learned so much and all got to helm. It felt the toughest when we were going around Scotland - it was fun though!"

Punta del Este's AQP, Fernando 'Nano' Antia Bernadez says: "It was a very very exciting race - really fast with a lot of wind - it was great surfing. I can't wait to see the city now!"

Speaking at Foyle Marina, Seattle's Susannah Veal celebrated their arrival after scooping fifth place in the race: "It's absolutely amazing - the race had its ups and downs but I am so happy to have achieved it - after 40 years I've put it into fruition and I'm here - I had so much self doubt when I started and now I'm wearing pride on my shoulders."

On board Qingdao, Bridget Pugh says: "The welcome into Derry~Londonderry has been smashing, it's quite unexpected to see so many people. I think the town has promoted it well - arriving into the marina was quite a tear jerking experience."

Commenting on the speedy race, she says: "The race was fabulous - the extension to the race was very bouncy - how the Atlantic should be. Chris is a super Skipper and really does push the boat and we caught up on 200nm which he thinks is a first. I feel elated!"

Visit Sanya, China joined the celebrations on the bustling marina, with Race Crew from other teams amongst the crowds waiting for them.

Welcoming the team to the city, Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council, Councillor Sandra Duffy said: "I'm so glad you have arrived in Derry, you are really really welcome. Enjoy some of our hospitality and a nice cold beer. Welcome to Derry."

Mary Vaughan-Jones, APQ on Visit Sanya reported on the race: "The last leg was amazingly fast- we arrived before the arrival window, with extra miles on top! We had six hours where we did 14.8 knots of boat speed which is incredible!"

Next to arrive was Ha Long Bay, Viet Nam in eighth place. This particular yacht has a number of crew hailing from Northern Ireland and Ireland, including Derryman Gerard Doherty- needless to say the team received an incredible welcome with family, friends, supporters and locals cheering them into the docks.

The final arrival of Wednesday 13 July was Zhuhai. Skippered by Patrick van der Zijden with AQP James Finney, the team finished in ninth place, and arrived as the sun set. Race Crew Nassor El Mahruki said: "The race was good! On the last few days, Mother Nature definitely showed us who's boss. It's great to see land and happy people to greet us. I hear there is something called Guinness here?"

This year marks the tenth year of partnership between the Clipper Race and the city, and the fifth time the fleet is taking centre stage of the internationally renowned Foyle Maritime Festival, which is expected to attract thousands of people to the city from 20-24 July. The event heralds a packed schedule of entertainment, markets, and river-based activities.

On Thursday 14 July, Dare To Lead was welcomed into Foyle Marina under sunny skies and cheers from the docks, having crossed the Finish Line in the early hours. Race Crew Marie O'Riley said: "Some of the sights we've seen on the race have been amazing! We left New York and saw amazing wildlife- whales and dolphins- and then we had some fruity weather! It's been so much more than I imagined it would be."

The fleet will depart Derry~Londonderry on 24 July for a final sprint to the race finish in London, a highly anticipated event which will mark nearly three years since the fleet departed for their epic journey in 2019 which took an unfortunate hiatus in 2020 due to the pandemic.

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