For the Clipper Round The World Yacht Race 2013-14 it was the perfect finale to a magical week on the Foyle; simply LegenDerry!
A near cloudless sky greeted the 270 Clipper Race crew as they awoke this morning to prepare for the penultimate race in the 2013-14 Clipper Race series – number 15 – The OneDLL Cup to Den Helder in the Netherlands.
The near 800 nautical mile race will be a tactical challenge, navigating around Scotland, into the North Sea, and then on to the historic Naval port on the north west edge of Holland.
The crew of Derry-Londonderry-Doire and the Mayor Councillor Brenda Stevenson pictured at Foyle Marina as the crews of the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race prepared to slip lines. - Martin McKeown, Clipper Race
The crew was treated to gastro breakfast sandwiches prepared by local ‘celebrity’ chefs before the teams were led to their yachts by Derry-Londonderry Mayor Councillor Brenda Stevenson.
Skippers were presented with their locally crafted awards trophies and mementos of their stay in the city by the Mayor.
'You and your crews have all been very special,' said Mayor Stevenson. 'We’ve loved having you here. You’re helping us tell our new story with pride and inspiring a new generation in this city.'
Crowds swelled as the moment to slip lines approached, joined by VIPs of local dignitaries, including deputy first minister Martin McGuinness.
'This has been another remarkable week,' he told the gathered crowds. 'A united city celebrating together with the Clipper Race and looking forward to a brighter future. Look at all the visiting boats here. A great sight!'
Local skipper of Derry~Londonderry~Doire Sean McCarter is still coming to terms with the fact he clinched a win into his home port after a week of parties and celebration. He said:
'For the first few days the welcome party in Derry-Londonderry just didn’t stop. It was lovely to see the whole family but whole city came out in numbers and it has been so nice. It’s been really busy, which I knew it would be but I’ve had a little bit of time to catch up with friends and the family.
'Coming into Race 14 we broke the home port curse, for Race 15 we’re looking to put the curse back in place and keep OneDLL out of the primary position.'
The Derry~Londonderry~Doire team is just five points short of a podium place in the overall race standings. It will be doing everything it can to overtake OneDLL on points. Skipper Olly Cotterell, is already under pressure to win into their home port.
He commented:' This is out homeport race so we would love to that first yellow pennant which we have yet to achieve. We are going to sail our own race and see how it happens – we’ll also be keeping a very close eye on Derry~Londonderry~Doire which is just five points behind us.'
Meanwhile Dutch skipper Patrick Van Der Zijden aims to take Old Pulteney onto the podium in Den Helder after sailing around Scotland, home of ‘The Maritime Malt’.
'We’re going to have light winds which will be challenging, but we’ll be working extra hard to arrive in Holland. We had a good boast from our last race and we’ll be hoping to repeat our performance, and do it all again.
'At the moment we’re seventh in the rankings two points behind Qingdao and the idea is to get ahead of them and be in the top half of the fleet in sixth place. So we will all be working hard to get there.' said Patrick.
At the top of the leader board Henri Lloyd is 13.9 points clear of Great Britain on 130 points, But with 24 points still up for grabs it’s not impossible for a late upset, especially with two short races.
Skipper of Great Britain, Simon Talbot, observed: 'The pressure is on for the next race – we are a group of highly competitive a person who want to win and that is always our goal. We’re realists; we know that this race is for Henri Lloyd to lose rather than for us to win. We could do everything right in the next two races and win both, but if Henri Lloyd do better than seventh they will still win.'
The OneDLL Cup is going to be very hard to predict as the current forecast is for lighter airs which, combined with strong currents, could result in some upsets if teams get stuck in the wrong place at the wrong time.
The race started at Greencastle, County Donegal at 1545 BST following a breathtaking display from the world famous RAF Red Arrows aerobatics team.
Possibly inspired by the airborne antics the home team Derry~Londonderry~Doire got off to a flying start across the line first ahead of Great Britain and Qingdao in second and third respectively. As at 1600 BST (1500 UTC) the race tracker showed Derry~Londonderry~Doire in a narrow lead ahead of Team Garmin and Old Pulteney.
The OneDLL Cup has an estimated arrival into Den Helder from 3 July subject to prevailing weather conditions. You track the team’s progress here on the official Race Tracker. Clipper Race website