There was much celebration in Derry yesterday as the first ever UK City of Culture announced its participation in two further editions of the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race, in 2013-14 and 2015-16 - news that has been widely welcomed.
Derry’s Mayor, Colr Martin Reilly announced the news on behalf of Derry City Council at a packed press conference yesterday. Describing the last Clipper event as “a phenomenal experience for everyone”, he agreed that its return was “hugely significant”.
“The Clipper Festival successfully reinvented our riverfront, brought investment to our maritime offering and changed the way we use and look at the River Foyle. It successfully showcased the city and achieved a PR value of £104 million in media coverage as well as generating almost 8,000 bed nights and achieving 98% positive comments in relation to civic pride,” the Mayor said.
“This further commitment with Clipper Ventures will form an integral part of the city’s international campaign to market the city’s business, tourism and cultural offering,” he added.
Not only that, but the Derry-Londonderry yacht will also have a local skipper too - with 31-year-old local man Sean McCarter chosen for these latest crusades. Speaking yesterday, Mr McCarter said it was an honour to be selected.
“In my career I have had the privilege of achieving so many of my personal goals, but to be named as skipper of my home entry in the Clipper Race is one of the greatest honours I have ever received,” he enthused.
The next Clipper Races will include a City Yacht in the race along with welcoming the fleet to the city as part of a biennial maritime festival planned for July 2014 and July 2016.
This is the world’s longest ocean race at 40,000 miles and visits 15 ports on six continents. Derry~Londonderry participated for the first time in the 2011-12 edition of the Clipper Race and hosted the hugely successful Clipper Homecoming Festival in July 2012, which attracted over 120,000 spectators over the 10-day celebration and was delivered in partnership with key agencies including Foyle Port, NITB, Loughs Agency and Ilex.
Founder and chairman of the Clipper Race, Sir Robin Knox-Johnston said he was “extremely pleased to be here” to break the news.
“This will enable the City to capitalise on its many achievements during the last Clipper Race, which will continue to provide an international platform for Derry-Londonderry to promote and build upon trade and tourism around the world.
“With our brand new fleet of 12 matched 70 foot ocean racing yachts the 2013-14 edition of the Clipper Race will be the largest we have ever produced,” Sir Robin Knox-Johnston said.