Sir Robin Knox-Johnston hails ‘wonderful and friendly’ Derry amid Maritime Festival celebrations
Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, chairman and founder of the Clipper Race, hailed the “wonderful” people of Derry and said leaving the town would be “bittersweet”.
Sir Robin, the first person to sail non-stop around the world, was speaking at an awards ceremony in the village at the Foyle Maritime Festival on Wednesday evening, where the crew of the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race received his prizes from the 14 race on a crowded dock in Derry.
Speaking to host Mark Patterson, he told how more people have climbed Everest than sailed around the world, which makes him “very, very proud” of circumnavigators.
He described the crews as a “great group of people” and said when they set off on Sunday it would be “bittersweet”.
“It will be sweet as we can say we are almost done with our great adventure and bitter as we leave this wonderful, friendly and warm city.”
Pointing to the large crowds on the quayside, Sir Robin said Derry “really knows how to handle it” and explained how the crews were “having a great time”. He thanked the townspeople and hailed “the friendliness you feel just walking down the street – it’s a memory you’ll never forget, the warmth of this town”.
Along with the sailing results of their Atlantic crossing, each team has named an honorary winner of the Derry Girl award for showing off the qualities of the hit Channel 4 sitcom.
“It was a proud moment for me as a Derry girl to recognize the outstanding accomplishments of the Clipper crews on the penultimate leg of their journey around the world,” said Mayor Sandra Duffy.
“The event was a great opportunity to honor the performance of the crews during their difficult ocean crossing and for the public to meet the crews and welcome them to our city.
“It was a perfect way to start the festival in earnest and I can promise all the crews an experience they will never forget over the next few days.”
Dubbed the LegenDerry Final, Race 14 was an action-packed sail of over 3,000 nautical miles across the North Atlantic Ocean from New York to Lough Foyle.
The race broke the record for the fastest crossing of the North Atlantic Ocean in Clipper racing history, even with an additional course extension to Rockall and St. Kilda which provided a bumpy ride of weather conditions extremes and a chance for teams to get tactical.
City’s Gerard Doherty was among the Derry Girls award winners for his role aboard the ship Ha Long Bay Vietnam.
The final leg of the crew’s journey ends at the Royal Albert Dock in London.