The full Clipper Race fleet has arrived in Derry-Londonderry, with the crew now ready to enjoy an action-packed fortnight and the award-winning Foyle Maritime Festival.
After what has been a thrilling race full of tactical, close racing, incredible whale and dolphin sightings, and a thrilling finish and win by the youngest Clipper Race Skipper, Nikki Henderson of Visit Seattle, the final two boats arrived into the Foyle Port Marina.
The third and final day of arrivals started with GREAT Britain after the team crossed the finish line in tenth place at 03:06 UTC. Having sailed approximately 3,000 nautical miles from New York across the North Atlantic Ocean, the round the world crew were very happy to arrive in Northern Ireland and be back in the UK the first time since leaving Liverpool in August last year.
One of them, Phillipa O’Sullivan from Hampshire, says: “As a round-the-worlder, it feels amazing. I didn’t think about what it would feel like to be back in the UK but it’s brilliant and what a lovely warm welcome from everybody here.
“I thought the North Atlantic would be physically harder than it was but psychologically it was tough as we just took the wrong route with the weather and hit a wind hole. But we are here – we made it and crossed the Atlantic for the second time.”
This was the first ocean crossing for crew member Julie Snowdon from North Yorkshire and she comments: “It has been my dream for so long and I just can’t believe I have done it. The North Atlantic was fantastic, I absolutely love that ocean.
“Now that we have arrived, I am looking forward to catching up with all the other teams and reflecting on what we have done. I also can’t wait to have a look around the Foyle Maritime Festival too.”
All eleven Clipper Race teams were reunited for the first time since leaving New York after Liverpool 2018 made its way up the river Foyle, after crossing the finish line at 12:13 UTC. A spectacular welcome awaited the eleventh placed team, with friends, family, supporters, and fellow Clipper Race crew cheering the bright pink boat into Derry-Londonderry.
On arrival Skipper Lance Shepherd says: “The crew are at the top of their game and very excited to be in Derry-Londonderry, bit of a divert but we managed to catch up 500 miles on the fleet and get three points in the Elliot Brown Ocean Sprint. We saw the wind coming in – the further north we were, the stronger the winds would be, so we put ourselves up there to get a good result. We worked well as team so really well done to the crew.”
It wasn’t the standard Atlantic crossing for the Liverpool 2018 team, who had to divert to Newfoundland, Canada, in the early stages of the race to carry out a successful medivac of an ill crew member. But after leaving Canada, the team banded together and had great success in the Elliot Brown Ocean Sprint, picking up the maximum three bonus points on offer.
Watch leader and resident Caymanian, James Macfee, says: “I am very excited to be here. We managed to get here despite some very difficult waters and tumultuous conditions. We had some good weather for the sprint, the boat was fast and it was good fun.”
The Clipper Race is unique in that it trains non-professionals to be ocean faring sailors. Established in 1996 by Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, the first man to sail solo, non-stop around the world, 40 per cent of Clipper Race crew have no previous sailing experience before signing up and undergoing the compulsory four weeks of training.
In total, 711 people representing 42 different nationalities and from all walks of life are taking part in the 40,000 nautical mile Clipper 2017-18 Race. In Leg 8, the Visit Seattle crew represent six different nationalities – Netherlands, UK, France, Germany, USA, Canada – with the ages ranging from 66 to 26.
The Derry-Londonderry Stopover is a much-anticipated stop on the global Clipper Race circuit, with the crew given a starring role in the award-winning Foyle Maritime Festival. Over the next fortnight, locals and visitors to Derry-Londonderry will be able to get up close to the 70-foot ocean racing yachts and take part in an exciting programme of diverse events in celebration of the Clipper Race crew and their adventurous spirit.
The Foyle Maritime Festival will come to an end when the Clipper Race fleet departs for the final race to Liverpool on Sunday 22 July. After a quick sprint around Ireland, the fleet will race down the Mersey on July 28 to decide which team will be awarded the illustrious Clipper Race trophy.