Breen finds his sea legs in yacht jaunt

Ex-Tesco Ireland chief has roped in Glanbia’s Michael Patten among others as sponsors

 

Former Tesco Ireland director and corporate affairs chief Dermot Breen is back on dry land for the time being after completing two legs of the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race.

He arrived back in Ireland in the middle of January, following the Sydney-Hobart stretch of the notoriously demanding eight-legged odyssey, bringing the distance he has sailed in the race so far to just under 10,000 miles.

Breen is back on the water in April for the seventh and eighth legs of the race, comprising a jaunt from Seattle to New York via the Panama Canal, and then New York to London, where it finishes in July. He will sail 22,000 miles in total.

He no longer has any executive roles but he is still a director of the Irish Cancer Society, for whom he is fundraising with €9,000 banked so far. Cancer research is a great cause, however, so there’s always room for more donations.

A glance at Breen’s Just Giving page reveals the names of a few well-known sponsors from corporate Ireland.

Glanbia’s Michael Patten, former Central Bank director and Indecon economist Alan Gray, and one-time Clerys chief executive PJ Timmins, along with his wife, are among those to have stumped up. Eamonn Rothwell also chipped in. He knows a thing or two about boats as the chief executive of the Irish Ferries owner, Irish Continental Group.

“Living on the boat is a bit of an endurance test,” Breen told me this week. “It is exhilarating. But you’ve no creature comforts and it is tough living.”

He says he doesn’t really miss the cut and thrust of working retail industry, which he left two years ago. Had he stayed on, however, his sea legs might have come in handy when you consider the competitive travails the sector in Ireland has faced due to the onslaught of Aldi and Lidl.

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