The new skipper of the Derry boat in the 2015-16 Clipper Round the World Yacht Race was today revealed as Scottish sailor Daniel Smith.
The 32-year-old from the village of Largs on the west coast of Scotland - who has never been to Derry - is tasked with trying to land the ‘Derry-Londonderry-Doire’ boat a podium place in the next edition of the race, which sets sail on its 40,000 mile journey from England on August 30.
Smith was joined by Mayor of Derry and Strabane Elisha McCallion at Gosport on Friday morning for the official naming ceremony announcements.
The duo also met the dozens of people from across the world who will become the Derry boat’s crew over the coming year.
Among those they met at the event were the four Derry City & Strabane District Council ‘Your Next Challenge’ bursary winners: Jilly St. John, Keelin O’Kane, David Pollock, Conor Shortland, who will each take on a leg of the race.
Speaking to the Journal this morning, Mr Smith said he was thrilled to be the skipper of the Derry boat and to be taking forward the hopes of such a legendary destination point on the Clipper calendar.
He said: “I’m quite happy. I have already met most the crew and some of them are very good sailors and all are fantastic fun and they are a competitive bunch as well.
“Different people do the race for different reasons and this bunch seem very competitive. I am competitive myself. I was brought up racing dinghies. When I got a bit older then I got into sailing and I like being out on the water.
“I have been sailing all my life and my earliest memories are of sailing with my family on holidays along the west coast of Scotland.”
Speaking about Derry’s reputation for warm welcomes and celebrations during the Clipper fleet arrival in the city, Daniel added: “I haven’t been as far across as Derry yet, but I have spent some time sailing off Northern Ireland and Derry sounds like somewhere I would love to go.
“It has got itself a bit of a reputation for being one of the most exciting and fun stops.
“It sounds like the people of Derry put on a very good show and a great festival.”
Daniel graduated from Glasgow University with a degree in Computer Science and he also boasts a long list of qualifications in outdoor sports which he has put to good use teaching others at the SportScotland National Centre in Cumbrae.
He is a former Scottish Schools National Champion who has gone on to be a qualified Yacht Master, Wind surfing and Power Boat Instructor.
Having already sailed across the Atlantic Ocean, Daniel says it is the Pacific he is most looking forward to crossing in Leg 6 of the Clipper Race: “Its sheer size and remoteness are what excites me about it.
“I believe that with everything in life the more you put into something the more you get out. The Clipper Race will be no different.
“Those who really get involved in preparing themselves, the team and the boat will get the most from the race. If I can make it the best race I can for each of my crew then it will be a successful race for me.”