Irish sailor adrift in Pacific Ocean ‘focused on survival’

Enda O’Coineen forced to drop out of around the world race after mast breaks in storm

60-year-old Galway native Enda O'Coineen is stranded 200 miles from Dunedin after the mast on his vessel 'Kilcullen Voyager' broke on New Year's Day while competing in the Vendée Globe round-the-world yacht race. Video: VendéeGlobeTV


Irish sailor Enda O’Coineen, who has had to drop out of the Vendée Globe solo around-the-world race, says that his focus now is on surviving.

He is hoping to remain self contained and not to have to call emergency services.

He has been drifting for three days now following a storm which broke the mast of his vessel the Kilcullen Voyager.

Mr O’Coineen told RTÉ’s Today with Sean O’Rourke show that at this stage he regrets “a bit” embarking on his mission to be the first Irish man to sail solo around the world.

“There are smarter and easier ways to spend Christmas, the New Year,” he said.

He said he is feeling a bit down at present. “I’m responsible for myself. I took this risk that’s why I don’t want to call the emergency services unless I really need to,” he said.

The sailor said he is wrapped up in two sleeping bags and wearing four layers of clothing while drifting 150 nautical miles south of Dunedin on New Zealand’s south island.

“I have food for a few weeks and I’ve managed to set up a sort of sailing rig and I have an auxiliary engine. I’m coasting along trying to get a favourable wind to get to New Zealand. I don’t have much control. A gale is forecast which will blow me towards New Zealand and hopefully a safe port.”

Mr O’Coineen said he was not sure what he would do after that. “My main aim is to survive and get to port.”

When asked about the highs and lows of the trip he said it was a wonderful feeling to be completely self contained and at one with nature and the elements, “to be master of my own destiny.”

He said there can be "unreal downers", but he had the emotional maturity to deal with it. “I have put two years of effort into this dream and it’s been shattered,” he said.

He has been in touch with the New Zealand coast guard, he said, which told him he could not have been in a more remote location. “The nearest fishing boat is 180 miles away,” he told the programme.

When asked if the voyage was his personal mid-life crisis, he said it was and that he regretted it at this stage.

“I’m lucky that family and friends have been very supportive and I’m very proud of the Atlantic Youth Trust. I hope the schools involved continue to follow other participants in the race.”