Clipper fever has gripped Derry, with the racing yachts due to start arriving in the city this morning.
First past the finishing line at Greencastle was last night expected to be Gold Coast Australia, which has been first home in eleven out of the thirteen races so far.
That yacht was last night expected to arrive at Derry’s Queen’s Quay at around 8am this morning.
However, there is quite a distance between the Gold Coast entry and the Derry~Lononderry yacht which was last night in ninth place for the transatlantic crossing.
The local entry, which is eighth in the overall placing in the gruelling round the world race, is not expected to arrive in the city until late on Sunday evening.
The other clippers are expected to arrive at Queen’s Quay pontoon as follows: Singapore late this evening; Welcome to Yorkshire late tomorrow evening; Geraldton Western Australia, late tomorrow evening; Visit Finland, late tomorrow evening; De Lage Landen, late tomorrow evening; Edinburgh Inspiring Capital, late tomorrow evening; New York, Sunday afternoon; Qingdao, late on Monday evening.
Meanwhile, the party atmosphere was last night cranking up for the Clipper Homecoming Festival which kicks off today. The festival promises spectacular ceremonies to mark the arrival and departure of the 10-strong fleet, including a flotilla of around 100 pleasure craft.
Derry MLA Colum Eastwood said the festival “looks set to bring life back to the river and bring the river back into the life of our city”.
Mr Eastwood, who was Mayor of Derry when the city was named as a host port and participant in 40,000 mile-long round the world race, said the festival will be a proud moment for Derry.
He added: “The end of the journey for this boat and its crew will also, I hope, mark a new beginning in our use and affinity with our river.
“The next ten days will see a whole host of events and activities on and along the river. Ships, boats, kayaks, canoes, even yachts will be seen on the Foyle. Attractions, for young and old, will be placed all along the banks.
For more coverage of the Clipper Homecoming Festival see pp32-33.