The crowds welcome Clippers to Derry

The Mayor Councillor Kevin Campbell with Wecome to Yorkshire skipper Rupert Dean
The Mayor Councillor Kevin Campbell with Wecome to Yorkshire skipper Rupert Dean

Pouring rain failed to dampen the spirits of onlookers as they gave a hearty welcome to the first Derry sailor to arrive home in the Clipper Round the World Race.

Student Niall McMonagle was “over the moon” to be back on dry land yesterday after being “chased across the Atlantic” by tropical storm Chris.

The Derry~Londonderry Clipper Yacht arrives at the finish line four miles off the Donegal coast. PIcture Martin McKeown. Inpresspics.com. 1.7.11

The Derry~Londonderry Clipper Yacht arrives at the finish line four miles off the Donegal coast. PIcture Martin McKeown. Inpresspics.com. 1.7.11

The Geraldton Western Australia crew-member was bowled over by the reception from keen spectators braving the persistent downpour to welcome the yacht - the fourth to arrive in Derry - as it docked at Queen’s Quay at around 11.30am.

“Obviously it would have been ideal to sail up the Foyle in the sunshine but then the crowd that welcomed us in was great and the atmosphere is fantastic,” he said.

Niall was reunited with his dad John as he stepped from the clipper yacht on to the pontoon. “It’s great have him back in one piece,” John said afterwards.

Niall, who is a Finance and Business Law student at Edinburgh University, decided not to join the Derry~Londonderry in order to “meet new people” during his transatlantic adventure. And what an adventure it was for the young Derry man.

“We were chased by a hurricane for over a week - it was 90 miles behind us at the start but it caught up with us and we endured two spells of very rough weather conditions.”

On not so dry land along Derry’s Quay yesterday, the Clipper Homecoming Festival was in full swing as the racing yachts continued to arrive.

The crowds that turned out for the highlight in Derry’s festival calendar for 2012 brought the Quay to life as they enjoyed the various activities.

Music from the fiddlers of the North Atlantic Fiddle Convention filled the air in the afternoon as revellers savoured some of the treats from the Seafood Festival, and even took tours on the two Dutch Navy vessels the Friesland and Zeeland which were docked along the Quay.

Gold Coast Australia - the overall race leader - was the first yacht to arrive on Thursday night, followed by Singapore on Friday and Welcome to Yorkshire yesterday. Visit Finland arrived yesterday afternoon, followed by Edinburgh Inspiring Capital which was towed in by a tug due to an engine problem while New York was expected to arrive at around 10pm.

Dutch entry De Lage Landen crossed the finishing line at 02:10 BST on Sunday. The Derry~Londonderry (in ninth place) came in at 06:00 BST on Sunday. Chinese entry Qingdao is expected to arrive this morning.

Having secured its eleventh win in the world’s longest ocean race after a 2,350-mile tough upwind battle across the North Atlantic, Gold Coast Australia has all but guaranteed overall victory in the Clipper 11-12 Round the World Yacht Race.

Get tomorrow’s Derry Journal for much more Clipper coverage