Londonderry to Den Helder

The welcome into Londonderry was incredible. Crowds lined the river front and cheered us in. The mayor, Brenda Stevenson came to welcome each and every boat. She appeared to be quite a force to be reckoned with; passionate about her City with a warmth of welcome truly outstanding and mirrored by the whole community.

I hadn’t seen my daughter since December 26th when we’d set off on the Sydney Hobart race. As soon as customs clearance was over, we were permitted to exit the pontoon area. I was so excited and just sobbed with joy for a time that must have felt very l – o-n-g for Katherine. It was wonderful to see her. I’d missed her so very much.

And then in amazing Derry hospitality fashion Anne McDaide, whom Katherine had only just met, offered us a lift to our B’n’B accommodation. Bless her. She later appeared at race start on her brother’s boat to wish us all the best of luck. Thank you Anne, you were great.

We ate and drank our way through the stop over, enjoying a great prize giving in the beautiful Guildhall, carefully and gloriously renovated after a tragic bombing during ‘the troubles’. We even had time off to visit the Giant’s Causeway, Bushmills Distillery (the oldest in the world) and other sites around the area. Definitely on our ‘to visit again’ list. Londonderry was a fantastic stop over, including a Beach Boys concert (!) and the first stop over in which we all felt we’d actually had some time to ourselves rather than living for Clipper and the race.

And then to the second to last race of the whole series. Where had the time gone! A quick (ish) race up the west coast of Scotland, over the top and through the Pentland Firth. If we got the timing wrong here, we’d see ourselves going backwards at nine knots, no thanks! So it was to be a coastal race with tides to contend with, then the North Sea…. Choppy and quite ferocious at times, along with oil and gas rigs and a few wind farms thrown in for good measure.

Meanwhile the send-off from Derry was just as amazing as our arrival. Crowds lined the river front. And as we paraded up to Greencastle along with a number of pleasure boats, we were rewarded with a red arrows display. Truly spectacular and a great way to end our stay before a fun line start to the next race.

From the start of the race we could see most of our competitors most of the time, every watch was tense with how much we’d gained or lost against them. Old Pulteney and OneDLL were out there aiming for success into their home ports. OP skippered by Patrick, a Dutchman, keen to make headlines into his home country. And then there was Derry hot on our tail. The whole of this race had been nail biting. Really exciting. And right down to the last moment we fought and fought to keep our place on the podium.

Finish line in sight and……Derry are so close. So close you can see them on deck. They are keen to gain points so they have a chance of finishing overall in third instead of OneDLL.

YEHHS!!!!!! We did it, we held them off and earned ourselves another podium position.

Team Switzerland arrives third into Den Helder with our final stop over ahead of us.

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