Derry man and Harbour Commissioner Roy Devine flies to New York on Friday morning to join the final leg of the Clipper Round the World Race – the longest yacht race in the world.
“The Derry-Londonderry yacht is currently in New Jersey and on Sunday it will go across to the Battery Park marina, in a parade of sail across the Hudson River,” says Roy.
“On Monday, I will sign in as one of the new crew for the last leg of the race, and get weighed on board – weight restrictions being understandably tight. This is the crew who will then sail the boat home to Derry.”
On the eve of his departure, Roy describes his feelings on his pending transatlantic sail as “more of excitement than trepidation,” but admits that it is only now he realises the huge undertaking that lies ahead.
“Most of all, I want to be an effective member of the team, helping to put the boat in a good position and to score well in our home leg. I will complete the 8th leg, leaving Derry on 7th July for Holland and then after a stop of about a week, on to Southampton, which is where the race finishes.”
Roy is full of admiration for crew captain John Harkin and crew member Michelle McCann, who have undertaken the entire 400,000 mile round the world trip. “I think it is fabulous what they have done.”
A former finance director of Coolkeeragh Power Station in Derry, Roy is semi-retired but holds several directorships, including Chairman of Derry City Airport, and has been a Londonderry Port and Harbour Commissioner since 2007.
“As a Harbour Commissioner, it is going to be something special for me to do this leg, because we will be arriving into the Foyle which the Harbour has responsibility for and into Derry, where a great welcome has been arranged.”
The Clipper yachts are all expected to arrive here around the 29th and 30th of June. “I don’t think it will be a photo-finish,” says Roy, who points out that it’s a 3,000 mile voyage to Derry. From New York, they sail to Nova Scotia before they set sail for the Foyle, an estimated 18 day journey.
For the Port and Harbour Commissioners as a body, the race has meant ensuring that the infrastructure is in place to handle an event of this scale, a job that’s fallen to Harbour Master, Captain Bill McCann, himself a keen sailor. “To secure the Clipper Race for Derry has been unbelievable. It means a lot to all of us – including the local sailing community.”
Bill believes that Clipper’s visit to Derry will renew interest in sailing and maritime events, and that it will increase the chances of securing similar large scale events in the future for the Foyle and the city. “The Clipper Race will finish this part of the 8th leg at the mouth of the Foyle – it would be hard to find a more visually stunning spot on the planet, and it’s an ideal start or finish point for any race.”
The city’s participation in the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race is in partnership with Derry City Council and Londonderry Port and Harbour. It is supported by the Northern Ireland Tourist Board, Ilex URC and Sail West.
Further information: Trish Hegarty +353 86 174005.