Crowds welcome back NI clipper

Published Monday, 23 June 2014
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The Derry~Londonderry~Doire was the first yacht up the River Foyle on Monday to rapturous applause after winning the trans-Atlantic leg of the clipper Round the World race.

Huge crowds lined the quayside to finally welcome home the winning team, who set off on their adventure last September.

The yacht's professional skipper Sean McCarter, a Maiden City native, described the homecoming as "hugely emotional."

"I sort of tried to prepare myself for it - but I don't think you could have prepared yourself for this welcome."

On Sunday, the Derry~Londonderry~Doire crew won the 2,850-mile New York to Londonderry leg of the race 11 nautical miles ahead of its nearest rival, Team Garmin, with Old Pulteney finishing third.

The yachts were scheduled to finish at Greencastle, Co Donegal, but unusual weather patterns and lighter winds hindered the trans-Atlantic crossing and racing was halted at 12pm and instead, the boats distance to the original finish line was measured.

In March, one of the Derry~Londonderry~Doire crew members was at the centre of a dramatic rescue.

Andrew Taylor, 46 and from London, went over the side of the yacht during rough weather as the race headed from Qingdao in China to San Francisco, USA in the early hours of the morning.

The incident happened when Andrew and Skipper Sean, were working on a sail change. It fell to Sean to return to the helm, stop the yacht and initiate the man overboard procedure.

Andrew wasn't sighted until almost an hour and a half after entering the water and was recovered nearly 20 minutes later.

A competing team, OneDLL, responded to the mayday call and diverted course to offer their assistance, while coastguards were also contacted.

Andrew was treated for shock and hypothermia - but continued on with the challenge and was greeted warmly by his relieved relatives at the Foyle Marina on Monday.

Eileen Taylor, Andrew's mother, told UTV: "I just can't believe it. I'm so pleased, so pleased that he's back on dry land."

The rest of the clipper fleet is expected to arrive at the marina throughout Monday, with the last boats expected by Tuesday morning.

The Northern Irish team is now in serious contention for an overall podium place in the Clipper 2013-14 Round the World Yacht Race, as just two races remain in the 16 race series.

The 12-strong fleet will be berthed at Foyle Marina until Sunday when they will set off from the city to start the next race from Greencastle.

The RAF Red Arrows will provide a spectacular aerial display along the coastline ahead of the Race 15 start to Den Helder in the Netherlands for the OneDLL Cup.

By the time the world-wide race is completed, the Derry~Londonderry~Doire will have sailed 40,000 miles over six continents, and visited 16 ports during their 11 month ocean odyssey.

The arrival of the clippers is part of a huge week of celebrations in the Maiden City - the LegenDerry Maritime Festival. Other highlights will include one of Derry's biggest ever combined local and continental markets, music events and arts and crafts, leading up to party finale next Saturday.

For anyone eager to get a taste of life at sea on board a Clipper 70 racing yacht, open boat tours will be running from Wednesday to Friday at 2-7pm.

© UTV News
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