CASE STUDY: CLIPPER RACE AND DERRY~LONDONDERRY: REFLECTING ON A DECADE-LONG PARTNERSHIP
Marking a decade of the partnership between Derry~Londonderry and the Clipper Race, this case study reflects on the longevity, commercial and economic successes, civic pride and legacy that has developed since 2012.
Image: The Clipper Race fleet arrives in Foyle Marina
Partnership overview and objectives
The Clipper Race and Derry~Londonderry partnership was established ahead of the Clipper 2011-12 Race when it made its debut on the international circuit ahead of its tenure as the first ever UK Capital of Culture in 2013.
The partnership was formed to:
- -Ignite civic pride and unity in Derry~Londonderry
- -Create a long-standing legacy in the city
- -Benefit the local economy and bring commercial success to the city
To date, the Derry~Londonderry and Clipper Race partnership and its subsequent stopovers have drawn over over 600,000 visitors and generated millions for the local economy and stopover attendance has increased by 83.3 percent over the course of the partnership so far [to 2018].
Now in its tenth year, and getting ready to celebrate the fifth Foyle Maritime Festival together, the partnership continues to thrive through creative, innovative and meaningful activation and collaborations.
Commercial and economic success
- -The Clipper Race has drawn over 600,000 visitors [to 2018].
- -Significant waterfront development and infrastructure took place in 2012 and the inaugural stopover drew over 120,000 visitors
- -First ever joint UK and Ireland trade mission established
- -The 2016 Derry~Londonderry Clipper Race stopover resulted in a £3.5 million boost to the economy
- -Hotel occupancy peaked at 97% during the 2018 stopover - the highest level ever recorded in the city
- -Festival attendance increased by 83.3% over the course of the partnership so far [to 2018]
The partnership was off to a great start with the inaugural stopover in the summer of 2012 attracting over 120,000 visitors, laying a marker for the city’s City of Culture year in 2013. The Clipper Race festivities formed part of the ‘Our Time, Our Place’ tourism initiative which was created to change global perceptions, drive visitors and generate economic impact in Northern Ireland. The festival was the first event to be held at the newly-developed waterfront, uniting both sides of the Foyle. The Our time, Our Place campaign generated £31m profit.
Image: The Clipper 2011-12 Race in Derry~Londonderry
Following the first stopover, Odhran Dunne, CEO of Visit Derry said: “I have never seen any festival that has had such an impact city-wide, nationally and internationally. Undoubtedly this surpassed all our expectations. We have been working closely with Derry City Council over the past two years to raise the international profile of the city since the Clipper Race announcement.”
Subsequent race editions saw early success continue to build and the Foyle Maritime Festival, which began in 2014 and wraps around the Clipper Race stopover, has become one of the city’s major events.
Image: The 2013-14 Derry~Londonderry~Doire team in Derry~Londonderry with Mayor Councillor Brenda Stevenson
In 2016, the Derry~Londonderry Clipper Race stopover resulted in a £3.5 million boost to the economy and during the 2018 stopover, hotel occupancy peaked at 97% - the highest level ever recorded in the city - with a record 211,000 visitors drawn to the city.
In 2017, Mayor John Boyle said: “The Partnership with the Clipper Race provides us with an international platform from which to generate extensive media exposure for our city and brand in international markets, to promote tourism and to stimulate trade and investment. I was delighted to be part of the delegation that travelled to the US (New York City) for the Clipper Race stopover to continue with the excellent work that is being done on the ground to develop business links, put job creation and investment to the fore and promote our unique tourism and cultural offering to a new and captive audience.”
- -Shane Brunker and Danny Bryce were selected as recipients of the Clipper Race’s ‘Voice of the Community’ scheme ahead of the Clipper 2015-16 Race, representing the community sector on board the Derry~Londonderry~Doire yacht.
- -The fourth consecutive Clipper Race Stopover in Derry-Londonderry welcomed a record 211,000 visitors over the ten day event with 32,000 people having turned out for the opening day.
- -Sean McCarter was the first Derry~Londonderry local to become a Race Skipper, flying the flag for his hometown as he led the Derry~Londonderry~Doire team 40,000 nautical miles around the world.
- -In 2016, the city’s team entry, led by Skipper Dan Smith, secured a second place victory for the overall Clipper 2015-16 Race.
- -Connall Morrison, another Derry~Londonderry local, led the HotelPlanner.com team as Skipper during the 2017-18 edition.
- -Festival attendance increased by 83.3% over the course of the partnership so far [to 2018]
Image: 2015-16 Derry~Londonderry~Doire team yacht departing Foyle Marina
Odhran Dunne, chief executive of Visit Derry said: “I have never seen any festival that has had such an impact city-wide, nationally and internationally”
“Undoubtedly this surpassed all our expectations. We have been working closely with Derry City Council over the past two years to raise the international profile of the city since the Clipper announcement.”
- -Waterfront development and infrastructure.
- -The LegenDerry Maritime Festival took the top tourism honour by picking up the Best Event/Festival Experience title at the prestigious 2015 Northern Ireland Tourism NITA Awards.
- -The inaugural ‘Your Next Chapter’ bursary scheme by Derry City and Strabane District -Council was introduced ahead of the 2015-16 edition, funding Race Crew places for those who were unemployed, participating in an employability programme, or in receipt of benefits. The crew places went to Jilly St John, Keelin O’Kane, David Pollock and Conor Shortland.
- -In 2018, Derry City and Strabane District Council launched a new partnership with fellow Clipper Race Partner Unicef UK announcing themselves as the first ‘Child Friendly Community’ in Northern Ireland.
Commercial and economic successes aside, the Clipper Race and Derry~Londonderry partnership has created opportunities and legacies in the region.
The ‘Your Next Chapter’ bursary scheme by Derry City and Strabane District Council was introduced ahead of the 2015-16 edition, funding three crew places on each leg of the global race route for those who were unemployed, participating in an employability programme, or in receipt of benefits. The crew places went to Jilly St John, Keelin O’Kane, David Pollock and Conor Shortland.
Shane Brunker and Danny Bryce were selected as recipients of the Clipper Race’s ‘Voice of the Community’ scheme for the same race year, representing the community sector on board the Derry~Londonderry~Doire yacht.
In 2018, Derry City and Strabane District Council launched a new partnership with fellow Clipper Race Partner, Unicef UK, announcing themselves as the first ‘Child Friendly Community’ in Northern Ireland.
The LegenDerry Maritime Festival also took the top tourism honour by picking up the Best Event/Festival Experience title at the prestigious 2015 Northern Ireland Tourism NITA Awards.
Talking in 2016 and reflecting on 2013, SDLP's Martin Reilly said: “People view us differently; they now see Derry as a place to come and see. In the past, people may not have believed they would be safe coming to Derry.”
“I think we also view ourselves differently; the city has a greater sense of civic pride. There has been the development of a sense of belief in Derry's ability to host large scale events like the Fleadh, MTV and BBC One Big Weekend. The Hallowe'en carnival is better than in the past; the Clipper festival has come back again and again.”
Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness said: "It has been the most amazing week in the history of the city. Not only has it been a very highly prestigious event, but it has shown the people of the city what is possible.”
To the future…
Now in its tenth year, the partnership continues to thrive through creative, innovative and meaningful activation and collaborations. The partnership looks to develop a STEM focus with an educational programme to highlight marine sciences.
Speaking in 2022 and looking back on the past ten years, Head of Culture with Derry City and Strabane District Council, Aeidin McCarter said: "When the city first featured as a host port in 2012, 120,000 people turned out for the inaugural Maritime festivities. In 2018, the footfall for the Foyle Maritime Festival had soared to 211,000 and that huge level of interest is in no small part due to the international draw of the Clipper Race. It has been amazing in terms of enhancing the profile of the city on a global platform, and it has been well worth the investment with regards to the positive media coverage of the city as an exciting and vibrant tourism destination reaching new international audiences.
"We have enjoyed an extremely positive relationship with Clipper Ventures over the past ten years, and I think Derry has become a firm favourite with both the Crew and the Clipper Ventures team among the stopover destinations, thanks to the warmth of the hospitality and the fantastic array of activities and entertainment during the Foyle Maritime Festival. We're looking forward to marking the 10 year anniversary with an unforgettable celebration this year."
Speaking at the start of the 2022 Foyle Maritime Festival, William Ward OBE, CEO of Clipper Ventures said: “The Clipper Race is incredibly proud to be celebrating this important milestone of ten years of partnership with Derry City and Strabane District Council.
Image: Clipper 2019-20 Race: Ha Long Bay, Viet Nam team yacht, with several crew hailing from Northern Ireland and Ireland, arrives in the city
“For us, this legacy with the city demonstrates the depth of the Clipper Race partnership platform, showcasing how a partnership can evolve and respond to a wide range of objectives. The holistic nature of this venture has delivered significant local economic impact, evoked civic pride and rejuvenated a waterfront. It has also provided social and personal development opportunities through a bursary ambassador programme and put Derry~Londonderry businesses on the map with international trade delegations around the world.
“The award winning Foyle Maritime Festival has grown year-on-year and become its own phenomena with the Clipper Race fleet as the focal point. It is a stopover that is highly anticipated by crew, supporters and staff, and it’s amazing to see more and more visitors coming to experience it each race year.”
Looking to the future, in addition to the legendary festivities, the partnership is developing a focus on STEM with a supporting educational programme to highlight marine sciences.