Welcome home sailor: Derry duo back after year at sea

HotelPlanner.com crew celebrating
Image caption The HotelPlanner.com crew came seventh place in the 'LegenDerry' race across the Atlantic.

After 11 months at sea, Conall Morrison and Roseann McGlinchey's Clipper yacht appeared on the horizon under the Foyle Bridge, as supporters cheered their return to Londonderry from the quay on Tuesday night.

The 35-year-old skipper from Derry and his 24-year-old crew member from Lifford, finished their penultimate race in seventh place after completing the 3,000 nautical mile journey across the Atlantic Ocean from New York City.

It took the Derry duo just over 14 days to finish the sixth and final ocean crossing of their year-long circumnavigation.

And as the HotelPlanner.com yacht pulled up to the Foyle Port Marina to dock, their families just couldn't contain their excitement.

Proud parents

"Oh it's very exciting and it's just great to see him coming home - safely," said Conall's mum as she watched her son sail into the port.

Image caption The 70-foot Clipper yacht will berth in Foyle Port Marina until the race continues on 22 July.

"For him we know he is so thrilled and excited, and so proud, it's a wonderful moment for us and for him."

Roseann's mum and dad followed the 70-foot yacht from Greencastle up the river on a friend's boat to meet their daughter who they haven't seen in the past 11 months.

"I'm the proudest mum in the world at this very moment. When I saw her face for the first time I just wanted to jump out of our boat onto her boat to hug her," said her mum.

Her dad could barely believe his eyes as he gave his wee girl a welcome home hug, "I never thought she would do this. She's done a lot of things, but I never thought she would do this.

"She's done it and she's really happy, so I'm glad she's done it, we're very proud of her."

'I can't wait to get some dinner'

Image caption Roseann's parents look on proudly as their daughter returns home.

Roseann jumped off the yacht onto the pontoon beaming from from ear-to-ear, and after a warm embrace with her parents, she took a moment to chat to BBC Radio Foyle about her experience.

"I've thought about this moment every time it gets hard on the boat - this is the day that you think of," said the marketing officer, "You'll get in and get to see your parents and it'll be all worth it, and it definitely was."

The 24-year-old's mind then instantly wandered to the thought of getting a proper dinner, and says that her fellow crew members must know the city better than herself by now, as she pointed out all of the food hotspots as they sailed up the riverside.

"I never thought I'd do this, but it has just been amazing, it has definitely been worth it.

"I don't think I would do it again, but once is enough, everyone should do it once," she laughed.

Last leg of the race

Image caption The crew were welcomed to the port with thunderous applause from their supporters and with a speech from the mayor.

The Clipper Round the World race teams will spend the next ten days in Derry celebrating the award winning Foyle Maritime Festival which coincides with the arrival of the boats each year.

And with only another five or six days of sailing left before they reach their final destination in Liverpool, where the race kicked off in August of last year, Conall is having mixed feelings about returning to dry land.

"I am in a way relieved that it's nearly done and you know, I'm just sort of realising that I'm going to miss it when it's over.

"There's only another five or six days of sailing left, so I'll have to work out how to make my own food again and there will be no one there to make my cup of tea every time I want a cup of tea - but then I'll have more time to myself.

"I'll miss the challenge, but there's got to be new challenges, but I don't know what they are yet - but I'm sure I'll find them."

Image caption "The plan tonight is, there is no plan," said Conall ahead of the crew's inevitable celebration.

Thousands are expected to cheer on the pair during the last day of the Foyle Maritime Festival, as the yachts take part in the Parade of Sail before preparing for their final race from Greencastle in County Donegal to Liverpool.

At this point in the overall race, team HotelPlanner.com are in 10th place out of 11.