Barry Hurley delivers personal best in world famous Rolex Sydney-Hobart race

The Irish offshore sailor admitted to having ‘mixed feelings’ about the 11th-place result

Irish offshore sailor Barry Hurley added another personal best performance when he and an Irish-crewed Australian entry sailed into Hobart in 11th overall this week in the 70th edition of the world famous Rolex Sydney-Hobart race.

Reflecting on his fourth and best Sydney-Hobart result to date, the Cork Harbour skipper on the First 40 Breakthrough had, however, some “mixed feelings” on the result.

The New South Wales campaign was third on handicap at the halfway point of the 628 nautical mile race that saw the Super-maxi Wild Oats set a new race record.

“Eleventh overall is my best result to date, but I have to admit that seventh in class is slightly disappointing,” Hurley said dockside in Hobart.

Breakthrough dropped to as low as 27th for a time in the 109-boat fleet.

The crew that included Dubliners Kenneth and Alexander Rumball and Catherine Halpin dug deep in the closing, big wind stages when others were throttling back to recover 16 places overall.

It’s a second impressive result for the Royal Irish Yacht Club sailor in as many months. Hurley took first in class on IRC and ORC in November’s Rolex Malta Middle Sea Race.

Offshore campaign

Meath-based former Glenans sailor

Tom Dolan

has launched a solo offshore campaign bid in the Mini Transat class.

The French-based class is the smallest ocean racing type in the world, measuring in at just 6.5 metres, carrying 100 square metres of sail. Dolan’s first qualifying race is the 150-mile double-handed Lorient Bretagne Sud Mini race on April 11.

Fifty-year-old British offshore legend Neal McDonald has come out of retirement to join Ian Walker’s Abu Dhabi crew for the third leg of the Volvo Ocean Race starting tomorrow.

McDonald, a veteran of six races – including Ireland's 2009 Green Dragon campaign – replaces injured Phil Harmer for the 4,670 nautical mile third leg, one of the most hazardous in the nine-month race.

Ireland's Justin Slattery is Abu Dhabi's bowman. "I'm excited, probably more nervous to be honest, I don't want to let the guys down," McDonald said yesterday in Abu Dhabi.

The six-boat fleet (minus Team Vestas Wind which was grounded on an Indian Ocean reef midway through Leg 2) is due to arrive in Sanya, China around January 24-25.

The National Yacht Club's (NYC) Laser Rio trialist Finn Lynch finished third overall at this week's Europa Cup in Hvar, Croatia. Schull's Fionn Lyden was sixth in the 19-boat fleet and Ireland's 2014 ISAF youth silver medallist Seafra Guilfoyle ended his youth career second in the U-19 division.

David O'Brien

David O'Brien

David O'Brien, a contributor to The Irish Times, is a former world Fireball sailing champion and represented Ireland in the Star keelboat at the 2000 Olympics