Crews ready for start of exciting global yacht race

Councillor Elisha McCallion (rear centre), Mayor of Derry & Strabane District Council and Stephen Gillespie (centre right), Director of Business and Culture for Derry City and Strabane District Council, pose with crew members of the Clipper yacht Derry 'Londonderry' Doire and its skipper Daniel Smith (centre left) during day seven of the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race launch at St Katharine's Docks, London.
Councillor Elisha McCallion (rear centre), Mayor of Derry & Strabane District Council and Stephen Gillespie (centre right), Director of Business and Culture for Derry City and Strabane District Council, pose with crew members of the Clipper yacht Derry 'Londonderry' Doire and its skipper Daniel Smith (centre left) during day seven of the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race launch at St Katharine's Docks, London.

The crew of the yacht Derry-Londonderry-Doire were among hundreds of amateur sailors from around the world who passed under Tower Bridge yesterday at the start of a 40,000 nautical mile global race, between six continents, which will take almost a year to complete in the longest and toughest ocean endurance challenge on the planet

The fleet of twelve identical 70-foot ocean racing yachts, along with a flotilla of RNLI support vessels and spectator boats, participated in a spectacular parade with London’s iconic Tower Bridge lifting to salute the crew twice ahead of their ocean odyssey.

Sarah Thompson, a 29 year old solicitor from County Down, is sailing the Atlantic Trade Winds leg from London to Rio de Janeiro on board Derry-Londonderry-Doire.

Commenting on her decision to sign up for the Clipper Race, Sarah said: “Both sides of my family have been going to sea to make a living for generations. My dad was a Portavogie fisherman so this challenge honours that tradition.

“I have already gained a lot from my training. I hope to return from my adventure with renewed determination and confidence; able to face a difficult task remembering the call of “All hands on deck” in the middle of the night, in the middle of a storm, in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean.”

The Clipper Race is a life-changing experience for the crew who are following in the footsteps of more than 3,300 people who have taken on some of the world’s toughest oceans in this unique global challenge since its inaugural race in 1996

Leading the Derry-Londonderry-Doire yacht is Daniel Smith, 32, a Senior Yachting and Sailing Instructor from West Kilbride, Scotland, who has taken a sabbatical from his job at SportScotland National Watersports Centre Cumbrae to sail around the world.

The opening leg of the race takes the teams over 5,000 nautical miles from the British capital, across the Atlantic Ocean, including the challenging Doldrums, to Rio de Janeiro.