Tens of thousands of well-wishers lined the banks of the River Thames on Sunday to wave off the Derry~Londonderry~Doire and her fellow racing yachts as they set off for the 10th edition of the famous biennial Clipper Round the World Yacht Race.
The fleet of 12 identical 70-ft. ocean racing yachts, along with a flotilla of RNLI support vessels and spectator boats, participated in a spectacular parade with London’s iconic Tower Bridge lifting to salute the crew twice ahead of their ocean odyssey.
“Our crew are everyday people who are taking on one of the world’s toughest endurance challenges,” stated Clipper Race founder and legendary yachtsman Sir Robin Knox-Johnston (76), who became the first person to sail solo non-stop around the world in 1968-69.
Leading the Derry~Londonderry~Doire yacht is Daniel Smith, 32, a senior yachting and sailing instructor from West Kilbride, Scotland, who has taken a sabbatical from his job at SportScotland National Watersports Centre, Cumbrae to sail around the world,
Dan said: “I’m really excited.
“We have spent a lot of time getting the boat ready and now cannot wait to get going,” he added.
The opening leg of the race takes the teams over 5,000 nautical miles from the British capital, across the Atlantic Ocean, including the challenging Doldrums, to Rio de Janeiro, in Brazil.
The fleet will arrive into Derry’s Foyle Maritime Festival after crossing the Atlantic Ocean in the homecoming leg in July 2016.