Thousands turned out in Londonderry last night to say farewell to the Clipper round the world race fleet, as the LegenDerry Maritime Festival came to a close.
During the week, with the Clipper yachts moored alongside the city’s quayside and marina, the Maiden City resembled a scene from Monte Carlo or Nice.
Saturday evening saw a stunning pyrotechnics display light up the River Foyle, featuring a fiery battle between two pirate ships and a spectacular aquatic fireworks finale.
Young spectators were encouraged to dress up as pirates with face painters, balloon modellers and pirate hat makers in place to transform them into swashbuckling characters.
Before embarking on the next leg of their round the world journey – The One DLL Cup – Clipper race teams were treated to gastro breakfast sandwiches prepared by local ‘celebrity’ chefs before the teams were led to their yachts by Londonderry Mayor Councillor Brenda Stevenson.
The festival then bid ‘bon voyage’ to the Clipper race yachts, with sailors from all over Ireland sailing into the city to take part in the Farewell Parade of Sail up to the Peace Bridge towards the race starting point at Greencastle in Co Donegal.
They were given a rapturous send-off led by Cllr Stevenson who made a special presentation to the skippers of the Derry-Londonderry-Doire boat before they set sail
Skippers were presented with their locally crafted awards trophies and mementos of their stay in the city by the mayor.
“You and your crews have all been very special,” said Mayor Stevenson.
“We’ve loved having you here. You’re helping us tell our new story with pride and inspiring a new generation in this city.”
The next stage of the race is a near 800 nautical mile tactical challenge, navigating around Scotland, into the North Sea, and then on to the north west edge of Holland.
Crowds swelled as the moment to slip lines approached, joined by VIPs and local dignitaries, including deputy first minister Martin McGuinness.
“This has been another remarkable week,” he told the gathered crowds.
“A united city celebrating together with the Clipper race and looking forward to a brighter future. Look at all the visiting boats here. A great sight!”
The race arrival in the city had the added excitement of a ‘home win’ when the Derry-Londonderry-Doire yacht skippered by Quigley’s Point man, Sean McCarter, won the transatlantic leg.
The event quickly found its way into the heart of the city’s community and praise was heaped upon Derry City Council for its vision in bringing the Clipper race to the city on two occasions.
See Morning View, page 16