The Derry~Londonderry stopover is a highly anticipated port of call during the Clipper Race, and for good reason. Each time the fleet arrives in the Northern Irish city, it receives a welcome like no other and is a stopover filled with the warmest hospitality and a packed programme of events. This year, the city yet again went above and beyond to ensure the fifth consecutive stopover - and tenth year of the partnership - was even more LegenDerry than before.

On arrival into the city, following a record-breaking fast final ocean crossing of the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race from New York, the teams received a huge welcome. Crowds lined the banks to cheer in the courageous sailors who’d experienced gale-force winds and huge waves in the days before arriving into port. The Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council, Councillor Sandra Duffy, was on the pontoon to welcome each and every team to the city, presenting them with a flower arrangement made by children from local school, Ardnashee. Mark Patterson, a presenter on BBC Radio Foyle, was also compere for the homecoming arrivals.

Image: First placed GoToBermuda arrive in Derry~Londonderry

Following a few days of rest and relaxation for the teams, the Foyle Maritime Festival officially got underway on 20 July, with the Clipper Race fleet playing a central role in the quayside activities. Over 10,000 people engaged in Clipper Race activities, which included motor tours and open boats, where the public could experience a taste of what life is like on a Clipper 70 racing yacht. Visitors also stopped by the Clipper Race dome on the quayside where they could learn more about the race first-hand from Clipper Race Alumni.

The highly-anticipated Prizegiving ceremony did not disappoint. Taking place in the heart of the Foyle Maritime Festival in Dopey’s Den, and hosted by broadcaster Mark Patterson, the Race 14: LegenDerry Finale Prizegiving was a night to remember. The teams took to the stage to celebrate their successes, with GoToBermuda taking the top spot on the penultimate race of the circumnavigation.

Unique to the Derry~Londonderry stopover, Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council, Cllr Sandra Duffy, presented the ‘Spirit of a Derry Girl Awards.’ A member of each Clipper Race team was recognised as an honorary Derry Girl - for their positivity, good humour and resilience.

Image: The Clipper Race honorary Derry Girls

At the end of the Prizegiving event, each circumnavigator on the Clipper 2019-20 Race was called to the stage to celebrate crossing every line of latitude on the globe - a bucket list achievement for the resilient non-professional sailors, who come from all corners of the globe and walks of life.

During the festival, many Race Crew, staff and supporters also recounted their stories from the Clipper Race at the BBC outside broadcast hub, which was the quayside home for BBC Radio Foyle, including the Mark Patterson Show and also BBC Radio Ulster. During its stay, the Clipper Race got involved with a range of community activities such as the Foyle Down Syndrome Group Waste Warriors litter pick along the quayside. This follows on from the beach cleans that the Clipper Race has organised with its Host Port Partners around the world including in Punta del Este and Seattle.

Image: Race Crew helping out with a litter pick along the quayside

Commenting on joining in with the Derry~Londonderry litter pick, Marcus Cox, a circumnavigator on board Seattle said: “It’s very important to be involved in things like this, and I try to join in at every stopover. I’m a guest in this wonderful city and it feels good to be able to participate and do something nice for the people here too.”

Temporary swapping the sea for a pitch, Clipper Race Crew competed in a seven-a side football match with The Oxford Bulls, and a City of Derry Rugby Club rugby match. Kevin Morrison, Founder and Coordinator for Oxford Bulls Football Club said: “We are a football club mainly made up of kids with Down Syndrome, and it was amazing for our guys to play a match with some of the Clipper Race sailors. It was quite a game! It’s just a fantastic way of showing our boys that they are part of the community as well.”

Image: Oxford Bulls and Clipper Race Crew football match

This stopover was particularly special as the Clipper Race announced the signing of a new Host Port and Team Partner, the Bekezela Community Foundation (BCF), for the next two editions of the Clipper Race against the backdrop of an incredible legacy. By visiting the Northern Irish stop on the Clipper 2019-20 Race route, BCF was able to see the positive impact that a stopover can have on Host Port. A signing ceremony was held with Inkosi Thandisizwe Mpungose from BCF and from the Clipper Race, its CEO William Ward and Chairman Sir Robin Knox-Johnston.

Image: William Ward OBE, Inkosi Thandisizwe Mpungose, and Sir Robin Knox Johnston

Inkosi Thandisizwe Mpungose said: “The Clipper Race is the perfect collaboration to bring the world to Africa, and to Umhlathuze specifically. The people of KwaZulu Natal can’t wait to welcome this new leg of the Clipper Race in October next year.”

On the Friday night of the festival, the Clipper Race fleet lit up the River Foyle in a spectacular Parade of Light. Crowds of thousands lined the river’s banks as the sun set ready for the evening ahead. The Clipper Race fleet was the centrepiece of the event, with twinkling lights, flares and glowsticks illuminating each yacht, with an incredible firework display to round off the event.

Image: Clipper Race fleet lights up the River Foyle during a spectacular Parade of Light

After almost two weeks of downtime, dancing and Derry~Londonderry hospitality, it was time for the fleet to leave the amazing city they’d spent two weeks exploring, and embark on the final race back to London.

Image: Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council, Councillor Sandra Duffy with the Clipper Race teams on departure day

Once again, the Foyle Maritime Festival and Clipper Race stopover delivered in terms of economic impact with over 95% of the city’s hotel beds being booked out over the festival. Based on previous events, the city’s local economy is set to benefit to the tune of over £2million, as well as enjoying the longer term benefits of the enhanced destination profile that the stopover and festival brings. Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council, Councillor Sandra Duffy said: “We and Derry have really embraced the Clipper Race, and we have loved having our partnership for the past ten years, and we have loved every time that the boats have come in, and hearing the tales and stories of the crew coming off the boats.

“The Foyle Maritime Festival has really become part of the fabric of our region. It brings in so many tourists from across the globe, it has grown each year that we have hosted it, and the holistic benefits of the Clipper Race are really felt across our city and district.”