The first of the Clipper fleet to make it across the Atlantic Ocean in record time are expected to arrive in Derry tomorrow morning at around 8am, the latest information suggests.
The world’s longest ocean race crews have been charging towards Derry from New York with strong winds and fast speeds, averaging 10knots/hr, indicating that the winning team will arrive well ahead of schedule.
In fact the 250 international crew members have been racing so fast that the itinerary was changed to take a detour around Tory island and giving people along the Donegal coastline the chance to see the boats in race mode.
The Derry yacht, sponsored by Derry City and Strabane District Council, is currently second overall in the 3,600 mile leg and has been deemed “a very strong contender” for the coveted home port victory in this, the LegenDerry Finale race.
This will be the third and final time the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race will visit Derry on its global voyage.
The arrival of the fleet over the coming days will be followed on Saturday by the start of Derry’s popular Maritime Festival, with is expected to draw tens of thousands of people to the city.
Derry’s team are currently in second place in the overall Clipper 2015-16 standings, with three races remaining including the Derry leg.
Under West Kilbride skipper Daniel Smith (33), the current Derry boat team has recorded five podium finishes, three of which were as race winner.
Thousands of people are expected at the Foyle Marina tomorrow to welcome the fleet, which are expected to take part in a Parade of Sail along the river before disembarking.
The Clipper team have said that the Derry stopover has become the stuff of legend because of the huge welcome the crews have received over the previous two races.
The boat crews will have a few days to recharge during the Foyle Maritime Festival.
The council has confirmed that the quayside will be transformed into a bustling seaside promenade with market stalls, funfairs, arts and crafts and fun for all ages.
The Clipper Race Kitchens meanwhile, will be stocked with local produce and seafood.
The music line-up will be headed up by ‘The Riptide Movement’ on Friday, July 15, while there will also be some adrenalin fuelled nautical displays, including dragon boat racing, wake-boarding and water skiing.
On Saturday, July 16, a mythical and mysterious finale will celebrate the flight of the medieval maritime heroine, Sunniva which will bring the festival to a close before the final Parade of Sail on Sunday 17.