Derry-Londonderry team announced for Clipper race

The crew representing the inaugural Northern Ireland entry in the Clipper 11-12 Round the World Yacht Race, Derry-Londonderry, have been announced at an event in the historic maritime city of Southampton.

Each of the teams is led by a professional skipper and taking charge of Derry-Londonderry is Mark Light, who took his turn at the podium to read out the names of his 52-strong crew.

The race is split into eight legs and crew can sign up to compete in one or more of the individual legs or take on the big one – a full circumnavigation of the globe.

Around 40 per cent of the crew who take part in the race have never sailed before embarking on their pre-race training.

Amongst Derry-Londonderry’s crew are 12 people from the city, including round the world crew member, John Harkin, and his daughter, Jodie, who will race on the final leg from New York, via her home town, to the finish line on the south coast of England.

John says: “I’m really delighted and my daughter’s on the same boat as well so it’s excellent news. It’s going to be a dream come true for me. She’s sailed with me all her life – she’s sailed against me many times, too, so it’ll be nice for her to be sailing with me!

“When I come back into Derry having sailed around the world, that’ll be the biggest thing in my lifetime, it’s tremendous. The boat is visiting Derry-Londonderry for a naming ceremony in a few weeks’ time and I think that will be a big buzz. It’s a beautiful city and it’ll be a very warm welcome there.”

Also in the crew are four from just across the border in Donegal and five others from the Republic of Ireland, as well as people from nine other nationalities, demonstrating the international and multi-cultural nature of the race.

Derry-Londonderry and her skipper and crew will be visiting the city as part of the Foyle Days festival from May 20-22.

The Clipper Race was founded by sailing legend, Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, the first man to sail solo and non-stop around the world, and this will be the eighth time his teams of amateur sailors will circumnavigate the planet, taking the number of people who have taken part in the event to almost 3,000.