Yacht so good they named it twice


WHEN DERRY hosts a prestigious round the world yacht race in two years’ time, the city’s entry may spark more than a little curiosity.

The local yacht could bear the name Derryon one side of its bow and Londonderryon the other, as it circumnavigates the globe – to appease all political interests.

Legally, the city and county bear the name Londonderry while the local government district is called Derry. Harbourmaster Bill McCann won’t be losing any sleep over it, however. His main concern will be meeting the deadline for the Foyle port’s participation in the prestigious Clipper Round The World Race 2011-12,

Work has already begun on preparing infrastructure to accommodate the race, which will serve as a dry run for Derry’s city of culture in 2013. An additional 140 metre pontoon is being installed, to complement the 400 metre berthing area, funded by the EU Interreg programme through the Loughs Agency. The Londonderry Port and Harbour Commissioners have formed a steering group with Derry City Council, and the port’s role will be to manage marine operations from start to finish.

About a dozen 68ft clippers are expected in July 2012, having crossed the Atlantic from Cape Breton off the Canadian province of Nova Scotia, which shares close historical links with Derry. The transatlantic-leg finish will make history – running cross-Border between Greencastle, Co Donegal, and Magilligan Point, Co Derry, on the far side of Lough Foyle. It will also serve as start for the race’s next leg, which takes the fleet up to The Netherlands and back to the finish in the British port of Hull.

Kinsale, Co Cork, hosted a clipper race leg in 2010 and its entry had mixed fortunes when it ran aground in the Java Sea in January. The crew were rescued and dispersed among nine other competing yachts, and then rejoined the race with a replacement yacht from Panama.

Capt McCann said Derry would host a round Britain-Ireland yacht challenge next year, which would serve as a “trial run”, and he hopes the port will become a location for many maritime events – including the Volvo Ocean Race, which returns to Galway, also in 2012.