JUBILANT crew members from the Capital’s entry in the Clipper Round the World yacht race have made an emotional return to British shores after a year crossing 40,000 miles of ocean in some of the most gruelling seafaring conditions.
The crew of Edinburgh Inspiring Capital docked at Southampton on Sunday with the world’s largest ocean race under their belts and stepped on to terra firma at the same harbour where their epic voyage began last July.
Hundreds of supporters and officials lined the harbour to congratulate the yachtsmen, who had arrived in ninth position.
Comprising accountants, teachers, company bosses and a farmer, the patchwork crew – many having never sailed before – were led by professional skippers throughout the arduous challenge, won by Gold Coast Australia.
A total of 52 people helped accomplish the round-the-world expedition, racing against nine other identical boats and stopping off at 14 ports, including New York, Cape Town, Rio de Janeiro and Singapore.
As part of the group, a relay team of doctors, nurses and transplant patients, led by Professor Stephen Wigmore of Edinburgh University, told their personal stories of organ transplantation on each leg of the journey in a bid to raise Edinburgh’s profile as a top research and development location as well as drawing attention to the global shortage of organs.
Nick Barclay, 30, was one of the team who underwent a kidney transplant in 2005, and completed the full trip.
Fellow transplant patient Justine Laymond, 39, joined the crew in New York to embark on a record-breaking bid to become the first recipient of a double-lung transplant to sail across the Atlantic.
Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, founder and chairman of the Clipper race, said: “All these crew members have achieved something special.
“They have ventured out across the oceans of the world facing nature in the raw, whether it be the stifling heat and calms of the doldrums or the ferocious storms of the North Pacific and Southern oceans.
“They have become great seaman and should all be proud of their achievement.”
He added: “The yacht and crew have successfully marketed Edinburgh around the world besides the crew members’ unique achievement.
“They’ve simultaneously raised awareness of organ donation globally as they raced into 15 ports around the world.”
This marks the second occasion that Edinburgh has entered into the Clipper race. Its inaugural entry in 2009 attracted worldwide media coverage worth more than £10 million to the city.
Throughout this race, the city’s official promotional body, Marketing Edinburgh, oversaw an international campaign to maximise exposure for Edinburgh in select ports.
Lucy Bird, CEO of Marketing Edinburgh, said she was “very proud”.
She said: “Our crew has worked hard to raise Edinburgh’s profile in specific markets throughout the race and has managed to attract the interest of the international business community, students and visitors.”