Belfast Telegraph

City of Culture should be plain sailing for Derry after Clipper success

By Brendan McDaid

Tourism experts say the success of the Clipper Festival has laid down a marker for Londonderry’s City of Culture year in 2013.

Hundreds of thousands of people from across the world gathered on the banks of the Foyle for the 10-day Clipper Homecoming Festival.

Discussions on whether Derry will host and participate in the 2013-14 Clipper Round the World Yacht race are expected to commence shortly.

Among those who would like to see Clipper return is Odhran Dunne, chief executive of the Derry Visitor and Convention Bureau.

He said: “I have never seen any festival that has had such an impact city-wide, nationally and internationally” he said.

“Undoubtedly this surpassed all our expectations. We have been working closely with Derry City Council over the past two years to raise the international profile of the city since the Clipper announcement.

Chamber of Commerce chief executive Sinead McLaughlin said the success bodes well for the City of Culture year.

“The Clipper Festival has been a wonderful achievement and a brilliant success,” she said.

“This has shown what Derry can achieve and the whole city should be proud. If City of Culture can be as good as this, we are in for a wonderful year.”

Foyle Port harbour master Bill McCann said the port’s marine team had been working full-time on the Clipper celebrations for the past six months.

“For the Clipper race, we had to put in about 400 metres of additional pontoons and infrastructure. But everything went smoothly and according to plan.

“It was great to see everyone from the city and from Inishowen turning their faces to the Foyle for the week, and welcome so many vessels who came to join the Clipper festivities.”

Meanwhile, the crew of the Derry-Londonderry yacht were on Monday making their way around the Outer Hebrides as they sailed towards their penultimate destination of Den Helder in Holland.

Speaking from the boat, skipper Mark Light described the Derry Clipper Festival as “amazing” and something he would remember for the rest of his life.

“I think the stopover exceeded all expectations — big things were promised and, wow, did they deliver.

“I would like to say a massive thank you to everybody involved in making it happen,” he said. “You have shown what the city of Derry-Londonderry is capable of and what a great city this is.

“I have to comment on how amazing the people of Derry-Londonderry are, friendly, interesting and generous to the last.”

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