• Text Colour:
  • C
  • C
  • C
  • C
  • Text Size: A A A

Irish & Northern Irish crew to arrive in this week in Derry~Londonderry after final ocean crossing o

12 July 2022
The Clipper Race crew, including nine non professional sailors from Ireland and Northern Ireland, are currently sailing towards Derry~Londonderry in the final ocean crossing of the epic 40,000 nautical mile (nm) Clipper Round the World Yacht Race. 

The crew are part of the eleven teams, formed of people from all walks of life, taking on the big conditions of the North Atlantic, facing strong winds, big surf and fast downwind sailing. The 3000nm race will see the fleet start to arrive in Derry~Londonderry from 13 July onwards, in time for the city’s Foyle Maritime Festival. 

The Race Crew hailing from the Emerald Isle are:

 

  • David Paul Fitzpatrick, an Academic at UC Dublin from Stillorgan, Dublin- Visit Sanya, China
  • Richard Ferguson, Social Services Care Manager from Belfast- Unicef
  • Gerard Doherty, Retired Company Director from Derry- Ha Long Bay, Viet Nam
  • John Borland, Managing Director from Ballymoney, Antrim- Ha Long Bay, Viet Nam
  • Gearoid Smith, an Engineering Manager from Carrigaline, Cork- Ha Long Bay, Viet Nam
  • Jacqueline Kavanagh, a Volunteer from Drogheda Louth- Circumnavigator- Ha Long Bay, Viet Nam
  • Jane Ross, a Lab Technician from Clonakilty, Cork- Ha Long Bay, Viet Nam
  • Aileen Croft, an Operations Director from Ireland living in Salisbury, UK- Ha Long Bay, Viet Nam
  • Diana Turkington, Self-employed living in Moneymore, Londonderry- Ha Long Bay, Viet Nam

 

The Clipper 2019-20 Race started in London in September 2019 but faced a two-year pause at its halfway point due to the global pandemic. The sailing event restarted in March 2021 and after sailing all the way from the Philippines is now on the penultimate race of its circuit, departing New York earlier this month bound for Derry~Londonderry, Northern Ireland, with this stage dubbed The LegenDerry Finale. 

This year marks the tenth year of partnership between the Clipper Race and the city of Derry~Londonderry, and the fifth time that the fleet will take the centrepiece of the Foyle Maritime Festival, bringing crew, supporters and visitors to the city for the stopover.

The North Atlantic is famed for throwing unpredictable and difficult weather with changeable conditions, big waves and high winds for the crew, who are spending just over two weeks at sea. 

The eleven multi-nation Clipper Race Crews, led by professional Skippers and First Mates, are made up of men and women from diverse walks of life, ranging from 18-70+ years old. Civil Servants from Oxfordshire race shoulder to shoulder with Gap Year students from the Netherlands, Farmers from Devon, and Teachers from New Zealand. Some 40% of Race Crew had no previous sailing experience before signing up for the four weeks of intensive and rigorous training. 

One crew member is Gerard Doherty, a retired Company Director, age 68, from Derry~Londonderry, who is sailing over 15,000nm on Legs 6, 7 and 8 on board the Ha Long Bay, Viet Nam team entryJust before departing New York to sail home, he said: “Doing the Clipper Race has made me appreciate everything I have in my life. Being at sea has been the longest I have been away from my family and two daughters. 

“Derry is such a good stopover because each time, the people of Derry reach out and welcome the Clipper Race with an open heart, making everyone in the race feel welcome in the city. Derry makes an amazing effort to accommodate the crew, and when we arrive in Derry the Mayor will be there, bands will be there and thousands of people will be there to welcome us. I will be immensely proud to sail up the Foyle, it will be an outstanding day for me.”

John Borland, from County Antrim, on departure from New York spoke about the excitement ahead and for sailing back to his home: “I’m excited for the next 14-18 days sailing across the Atlantic- it’s a big challenge I’d set myself. It’ll be a homecoming, with lots of family and friends there to welcome us to Derry- I only live fifty miles from there. The Foyle Maritime Festival will be huge, so I’m looking forward to enjoying that.”

He continues “I used to work in Derry, and the people were always so warm and welcoming. It’s an amazing city, the craic and the bars are great fun.”

Talking about the Foyle Maritime Festival ahead, Gerard continues: “It will be outstanding! There’s an amazing programme, if you look back at the 2018 festival you’ll see the crowds, fireworks, dancing. Derry is just at a different level to every other city we have visited- I have to say that!”

Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council, Councillor Sandra Duffy, said: "There is a real sense of anticipation building ahead of the Clipper Race arrivals this week. The first sign of the yachts as they make their way up the Foyle generates a huge buzz and the crew can expect a tremendous reception when they step on to the Quayside. The fact that so many of the fleet are arriving in such a short space of time will really add to the excitement and I know we're all looking forward in particular to welcoming our own crew member Gerard Doherty home after his epic adventure. I hope to see lots of people turning out to give Gerard and all the crew a warm Derry welcome."

The lively Derry~Londonderry stopover, which includes the Foyle Maritime Festival, will provide much celebration before the final sprint race of the entire Clipper 2019-20 Race gets underway on Sunday 24 July with the fleet bound for the Royal Docks in London, UK. Here, the overall winner of the 2019-20 edition will be crowned victorious.

The Clipper Race is the only event of its kind which trains people from all walks of life to become ocean racers. Participants sign up to compete in one or multiple legs, or the full eleven-month, 40,000nm circumnavigation. On this edition, a third of the Race Crew are female, including several circumnavigators. The Clipper Race was founded by Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, the first person to sail solo and non-stop around the world, and the sailing event recently celebrated 25 years since its first edition in 1996.