‘Big Apple’ celebrity send-off as clipper heads home

L to R: Damian McGinty with John Duddy, Geraldine Hughes, Grainne Duddy, Roy Devin, Commisioner Ports & Harbour Derry City Council and Mark Light, Skipper Derry-Londonderry Clipper.'Tuesday June 5, 2012 NYC.'Photo credit: James Higgins (HigginsPhotoNYC.Com)

L to R: Damian McGinty with John Duddy, Geraldine Hughes, Grainne Duddy, Roy Devin, Commisioner Ports & Harbour Derry City Council and Mark Light, Skipper Derry-Londonderry Clipper.'Tuesday June 5, 2012 NYC.'Photo credit: James Higgins (HigginsPhotoNYC.Com)

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There was a sparkling celebrity send-off in New York for the crew of Derry-Londonderry Clipper Yacht as the home team prepared for the next leg of the world’s longest yacht race later today.

Famous faces boxer John Duddy, ‘Rocky’actress Geraldine Hughes and Glee star Damien McGinty climbed on board to wish the crew fair weather on the last leg of the transatlantic stage of the equally famous race.

Race 12, from New York to Halifax, starts at 5pm our time after a departure ceremony and fleet parade past the Statue of Liberty. The Clipper Race fleet is expected to arrive in Halifax, Canada between 11 -12 June, where they will be berthed at the Royal Nova Scotia Yacht Squadron.

It is the first time that Northern Ireland has been represented in the race, which attracts a global audience of more than 460 million people. The boat currently stands in 4th position.

It was a busy few days in the Big Apple for the ten-strong fleet of ocean racing yachts taking part in the 40,000 mile Clipper Race, including corporate sailing on the Hudson River and City Reception for over 80 leaders in the fields of business, technology, tourism, media and arts.

CEO of Derry City Council, Sharon O’Connor said: “As the inaugural UK City of Culture 2013, we have a transformation agenda that has already seen more than $150 million into the local economy. This is our time to seek new ideas and programmes with international partners for the future of our city.”

Odhran Dunne of Derry Visitor and Convention Bureau added: “Our business development team is encouraged by the interest and the response. We’ve a proven appeal as a destination for tourism and the added bonus of the UK City of Culture 2013 designation brings out a new dimension that we believe will strengthen our international appeal.”

Roy Devine, Commissioner of Derry Port, said they had been enthused by the size and response of the Ex-Pat community who have made their home in New York yet still retain a connection and belief in the city.

“We hope this visit helps renew connections and put a visit to Derry~Londonderry during 2013 as a confirmed date in their diary,” he said. “Great plans and significant investments have been made to ensure a warm welcome for the Clipper team. We look forward to their return which will be marked by a great celebration in the city, it’s sure to be a memorable occasion!”

The Clipper Derry~Londonderry International Trade Programme is part funded by the European Reional Development Fund (ERDF) under the European Sustainable Competitiveness Programme for Northern Ireland.

Derry is also one of the Clipper Race’s official host ports and the Derry-Londonderry Clipper crew will be welcomed back at the end of the final transatlantic stage of the race with the Clipper Homecoming Festival.

A huge programme of events has been organised from June 29 – July 8, including huge welcome and farewell ceremonies, music, dancing, marine displays, water-going activities and a seafood festival. More information at www.derrycity.gov.uk/clipper or follow us on Facebook