Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 20 December 2014

Derry ponders fresh tilt at Clipper glory after £100m boost revealed

Talks are under way to examine the possibility of Londonderry participating in the 2013-14 Round the World Yacht race.

Officials flew into the city to meet with Derry City Council and partners ahead of a new Clipper legacy project starting next week.

While no agreement has yet been reached, the council and its partners are again considering entering a boat in the 40,000 mile race.

And becoming a host port for the return leg of the journey, as happened this summer, is being looked at once again for 2014.

Yesterday’s visit by members of the Clipper team came as it emerged Derry’s participation in the 2011/12 race resulted in global media exposure worth a staggering £100m.

An independent evaluation of media coverage revealed that Derry achieved “exceptional” news coverage during the year — more than race winners Gold Coast Australia and the eight other competitors in the 10-yacht race.

The evaluation shows that Derry was showcased to an audience of 900 million people around the world.

The international promotional activity and “an outstanding” Clipper Homecoming Festival was lauded for having generated “huge media exposure for the name of Derry-Londonderry”.

The city featured in 2,091 news items across the world, reaching an estimated 285 million.

The six-part Clipper documentary series, Against The Tide, is expected to be screened on the Discovery Channel here and on TV channels worldwide within months, reaching a potential 630 million people in 128 countries.

BBC NI meanwhile will screen a one-hour special at the start of the City of Culture year looking specifically at the experiences of the Derry crew and the city during the Homecoming Festival.

The economic impact of the Clipper festival for Northern Ireland is still being assessed and is expected to be made known in the coming weeks.

Derry City Council chief executive Sharon O'Connor said: “Our partnership with Clipper 11-12 Race enabled the city to reach an international audience and raise the profile of the city using connections and stories for business, culture and diaspora.

“The city has an extraordinary new story to tell and we are delighted the partnership with the Clipper Race was so successful”.

Jonathan Levy, director of business development for Clipper Ventures, met with officials in Derry yesterday.

Mr Levy said the message about Derry went far and wide during the Clipper race, in part because of the city being proactive and sending delegations to different host ports to get the story out.

“One third of all articles about the race included a mention of Derry,” he said.

“There was a big slice of news coverage and a big share of the TV documentary.

“What’s interesting in terms of news coverage is that Derry had a slightly higher value than the winning yacht. It featured everywhere from the Qingdao Daily to the Wall Street Journal.

“We are exploring the city participating in the next race.

“We have been having discussions today. The city could have a boat in the race, but because there is so much going on in 2013, if the city became a host port it would probably be in 2014, when the race is coming back, a similar pattern to what happened this year. That would create some activity for 2014.

“It is early days but clearly there is a huge desire to continue that relationship.”

Mr Levy said that they would be gradually announcing the participating sponsors right up until the 2013-14 race next summer.

But he added: “The deadline is more in terms of availability of a boat.

“There is a brand new fleet and there has been a huge amount of interest, the highest amount of interest there has ever been.”

The Derry-Londonderry yacht was due to arrive in the city yesterday to take the first batch of 48 local young people on sailing courses out in the Atlantic. This has now been postponed until next week because of mechanical problems.

Background

Derry was one of 10 cities and regions across the world to take part in the year-long 2011-12 Clipper Round the World Yacht Race. The race saw teams battling against each other and the elements to reach a series of host port destinations across the world. In preparation for the Clipper fleet sailing into Lough Foyle, Derry City Council and its partners had organised a programme of maritime themed events, markets and large-scale open air concerts to celebrate the homecoming. Hundreds of thousands of people gathered in the city for the 10-day festival.

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