The Derry~Londonderry~Doire yacht is leading the way in Clipper Round the World Yacht Race leg from New York to Derry.
The local boat was the first to finish the Ocean Sprint with a time of 24 hours, 20 minutes and 56 seconds.
The boats in the north have been putting in better runs than the southerly yachts. But with a high pressure system centred west of Ireland and wind coming from where the boats need to go blocking progress, the leading yachts could be forced in to a much longer beat in the final throws of the race.
Gareth Glover, skipper of Qingdao, in tenth, said: “With us opting for more of a north easterly than northerly course, boat speeds were lower than the rest of the Clipper 70 yachts to our north which means we have lost more miles to them.
“But at some point they will all have to tack east as they reach the edge of the high pressure system just west of Derry-Londonderry.
“We hope that is where we will pick back up the lost miles and make gains on the rest. With over 800 miles to go, all upwind, a lot will still happen on this race yet.”
Due to adverse weather conditions The Derry~Londonderry~Doire vessel is not expected to sail into the port of Derry until Sunday or Monday.
Meanwhile, Derry has been getting itself shipshape this week as it prepares to welcome tens of thousands of visitors for a spectacular nautical celebration at the LegenDerry Maritime Festival.
Speaking ahead of the opening events, Mayor of the city, Councillor Brenda Stevenson, said she was looking forward to a busy week.
“When the city hosted its first Clipper stopover event in 2012, we received tremendous feedback from both the crews and organizers about the outstanding welcome and incredible atmosphere,” she said.
“I know that Derry will certainly rise to the occasion once again and with an even bigger and better line up for 2014 the LegenDerry Maritime Festival promises to be an exceptional event.
Thousands of people will be thronging the streets over the coming days, so this is a real opportunity to showcase the very best of the city - our stunning riverfront, our renowned hospitality and our ability to stage world class events.
“I would urge everyone to come along and join in the fun, and give the Clipper crews, including our own Derry-Londonderry-Doire, a very warm Derry welcome.”