Padraig McConway flies to US to join Clipper raceThe latest of the local representatives to join the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race is packing his bags to board the yacht in New York and sail across the Atlantic Ocean –  Padraig McConway, (25) from the Shantallow area of the city – will fly to the US this weekend to set sail from New York on June 7th.

The recently qualified primary school teacher is one of five successful Derry City Council sponsored bursary representatives to take part in the Race through the KICKSTART to Work programme.                      

Padraig has been busy preparing for his challenge over the past number of months, keeping in regular contact with the crew through the sailing blog and checking their progress regularly.  Although he was a novice to sailing before undertaking the intensive training for the race last summer, Padraig has a range of skills which led him to be an ideal candidate for the programme, including certificates in life saving, disability awareness, basic sign language, fire awareness and youth leadership scheme – all attained during his time with the St John’s Ambulance. 

“The training provided was really intense, and it was a fantastic experience as I had never sailed before.  However, although it was tough it prepares you for almost eventuality, so we should be able to handle whatever comes our way along the race.”

Padraig’s sister is also travelling to New York to wave him off as he sets sail on his voyage.  Although he is a little anxious about the race he is looking forward to the challenge and what will be an experience of a lifetime.  “We start off in New York and sail to Halifax.  From there we then set sail for Derry – which will definitely be the highlight of the race – then to Holland before the end of the race in Southampton on 22nd July.”

Joining Padraig on the transatlantic leg of the race will be a number of other local participants including Orla Quigley, Roy Devine, and Jodie Harkin, all from the city, as well as Jodie’s father, John Harkin, and Michelle McCann from Greencastle, Co. Donegal, who are both participating in the complete round the world race. Padraig said he is looking forward to sailing with so many local people.  “It will be a great atmosphere on board, I’ve got to know the other participants through training, and sailing into my home city after crossing the Atlantic with everyone on board will be really special.”

The Clipper Homecoming Festival will take place on the banks of the Foyle from 29th June – 08th July.  At the centre of the ten-day long festival will be the welcoming of the magnificent Clipper yachts – including our own Derry~Londonderry yacht. 

During the festival visitors will have the opportunity to visit the Clipper yachts and meet the crews, however, that’s only the start! The event will include a programme of activities and maritime themed attractions and sights, including marine taster sessions, a Seafood Festival, a marine environment zone with visiting boats, Zapcats micro powerboats display, a marine heritage zone, Northern Ireland’s largest continental market, sizzling musical entertainment and creative family events every day, fireworks and much, much more!   Padraig said: “It will be an amazing event, and we hope everyone comes out to welcome us and the many visitors from around the world so we can showcase the very best of the city.”

Padraig will be providing regular updates from the vessel via the Clipper’s Facebook page Derry Londonderry Clipper 11-12 and on Twitter – DerryClipper where you can follow the team and their progress in the race. Padraig is taking part in the KICKSTART to work programme as part of the Derry City Council bursary initiative.

There are many ways for businesses, communities and individuals to ‘Get on Board’ with the Clipper Homecoming Festival, as we countdown to the arrival of the international teams and visitors to Derry-Londonderry.  For more information on the volunteer and ambassador opportunities, international road show, business networks and education programme; as well as on the festival, go to and like us on Facebook to get up to date news on the festival programme: Derry – Londonderry Clipper 11 – 12

Press information from Shóna McGuigan, Derry City Council’s Marketing and Communications Section, Tel. 048/028 71 376504.