Belfast Telegraph

Derry crew negotiates a minefield in global race

By Brendan McDaid

The crew of Northern Ireland's entry in the Clipper Round the World race were celebrating last night after anchoring in an impressive fourth place in the first leg of the event.

The novices on the Derry-Londonderry yacht narrowly missed out on a podium place in the top three as they sailed towards the Portuguese island of Madeira.

Crew member Niall Boyle from Altnagelvin in Derry described how the crew had to navigate through dangerous, mine-infested waters and felt the full force of the notorious Cape of Finisterre to reach land ahead of six other competitors.

The crew ran into dangerous waters surrounding the island of Alderney on day three of the race.

The seabed around the Channel Island is littered with World War II mines.

Niall said: "At one point we floated nine miles backwards as there were disused explosives below and we couldn't drop an anchor so we had to drift out of it.

"To be honest with you, we didn't even think about the mines, we were just thinking about the race."

Yacht skipper Mark Light recorded in his diary: "We were hoping to clear Alderney by the time the tide turned but Mother Nature intervened and the wind went to others.

"We have been becalmed for much of the night, and being in a disused explosive dumping ground and 80 metres of water, found that anchoring would not be clever.

"This race started with a bang but none of us wants another one!"

The Derry team crossed the line at Quinta Do Lorde Marina at 2.10am yesterday, 10 days after setting sail from Southampton.

The battle for the final podium positions was intense among five of the teams with only a handful of miles separating them.

Line honours went to Gold Coast Australia who came out victorious following a two-way battle with Visit Finland. American entry, New York, took third place.

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