Derry’s clipper crew is confident of securing a podium finish after the longest leg of the round the world ocean race.
The race from China to the USA’s west coast has so far been good to the Legenderry crew and skipper Mark Light is looking forward to at least maintaining the yacht’s current third place standing. And the North Pacific Ocean is certainly living up to its fearsome reputation with winds gusting up to 50 knots and mountainous seas facing the yachts.
In an effort to stay in third, the Derry-Londonderry opted to ignore the scoring gate and forfeit the chance for a bonus point at the weekend.
The skipper explained: “I think our decision to ignore the Scoring Gate bonus point and concentrate on the grand plan will pay dividends. It seems that we were not the only boat to come to this conclusion and we now have a new sparring partner in Qingdao - my old mate Conchie (Ian) will be trying his utmost to catch the ‘ferry from Derry’. We will use his boat as the motivation to up our game and try to increase the gap.”
He added: “It is great that after over 2,500 miles of ocean racing and being out here in the North Pacific, that we find ourselves so close to another Clipper Race boat. At the midnight UTC position report we were barely 20 miles apart - no distance at all in this vast wilderness of ocean. Our nearest land is the Island of Midway (750 miles to the South East of us) and as the name suggests this is approximately half way across the largest ocean on the planet.
“All in all, I am very happy with our progress, really enjoying this North Pacific Ocean race and looking forward to sailing underneath the finish line - The Golden Gate Bridge - in one of the podium positions,” concludes Mark.
Meanwhile, back on dry land, the Derry St Patrick’s Day parade saw former Clipper crew, family and friends participate in the annual street party along with a troupe of Wave Dancers. The Wave Dancers and crew represented the many oceans the Clipper Yachts will sail before arriving in the city in late June this year.
Claire Lundy, from Derry City Council said: “It’s great to have this opportunity to be part of the Carnival and the creative depiction of the Clipper journey through the Wave Dancers represents a great connection with this year’s theme of a ‘Voyage of Discovery’ and the unique experience that is the Clipper Race”.
Onboard the team marked the national holiday with celebrations, decorations, music and a little tot of Jameson whiskey.
Derry’s plans are well underway to welcome 200 international crew and ten yachts to one Legenderry Homecoming Festival in the city from 29th June – 08th July 2012. Claire Lundy explained: “We’re looking forward to a unique welcome for the international teams and transforming the waterfront into a Homecoming Festival location for everyone. From music, markets, family entertainment and unique experiences of the city’s creative, maritime and marine connections, it is shaping up to be a memorable ten-day visit for everyone”.
To keep updated on the progress of the race and to find out more about Clipper 11-12 Derry~Londonderry visit www.derrycity.gov.uk/clipper or on FACEBOOK derrylondonderryclipper11-12.