Thousands to bid clippers farewell

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Thousands of people are expected to turn out to wish the Clipper fleet farewell tomorrow.

Having spent a week at Derry’s Queen’s Quay, the ten-strong fleet of racing yachts will begin Race 14 in the Round the World Race when they set off for Den Helder in The Netherlands.

The clippers will take part in a parade of sail to the Greencastle starting line from 1-2pm.

Ruth Harrington from Clipper Ventures said: “The departure ceremony starts on stage in the race village is due to start at 12 noon The ten yacht crews will then make their way to the boats which will start to leave the pontoon at 1pm. The fleet will perform a parade of sail in the Foyle – making their way towards the Peace Bridge before heading out under the Foyle Bridge around 2.30pm.”

The fleet will arrive at Greencastle at 4.30pm

The penultimate 800-mile sprint to Den Helder in the Netherlands, will start at 5pm local time from Greencastle, County Donegal. The start line will be between a flag staff on the Greencastle shore line.

A Big Screen will be located in the DoE car park opposite the Quay West Restaurant and will carry live video of the parade of sail and also the race start from Greencastle.

Looking forward to the race start, SDLP Foyle MLA, Colum Eastwood yesterday gave a warm welcome to comments by the founder of the Clipper Race, Sir Robin Knox-Johnson, that he would love to bring the race back to the city. Mr Eastwood said the possibility of Derry hosting the final leg and Grand Finale of the race should be explored.

He said this week’s success in Derry showed “the benefits of thinking big”. Mr Eastwood, who was Mayor when Derry gained its location as a Clipper port, said: “I was delighted to hear the sentiments expressed by Sir Robin and to hear his obvious enthusiasm about bringing the race back to the city. If the success of this week has proved anything it is that Derry will greatly benefit from the hosting of festivals and events, such as Clipper, if they are held on a more regular basis. ‘In this vain, I would now strongly urge that, similar to what has happened at Galway, the possibility be explored not only that Derry host another finish to a leg of the race but whether we can host the final leg and Grand Finale.”