Enda O’Coineen ready to set off around the world

Galway sailor hoping to break new frontiers aboard Kilcullen Team Ireland

Enda O’Coineen will become Ireland’s first Vendee Globe skipper when he sails from Les Sables d’Olonne on Sunday.

Enda O’Coineen will become Ireland’s first Vendee Globe skipper when he sails from Les Sables d’Olonne on Sunday.

 

Enda O’Coineen opens a new chapter in Irish offshore sailing when he starts the French solo non–stop Vendee Globe round–the–world race on Sunday. His entry, he hopes, will bring a new wave of young Irish sailors into offshore sailing.

The Galway Bay adventurer is Ireland’s first entry into the “everest of sailing”, the sports toughest marathon with a high attrition rate.

In his own words O’Coineen (60) says “to finish the 40,075km race will be to win it”.

He qualified to race by virtue of his third-place finish in 2015 when he made it to the podium of the St Barth-Port La Forêt transatlantic race on an IMOCA (he finished third).

He now joins 14 other rookies in a fleet of 29 ready at the French port of Les Sables d’Olonne in what has become the benchmark event for all aspiring single-handed sailors.

“While my boat is 10 years old and I don’t expect to be out front, she is strong and we are well prepared’, O’Coineen said.

An Owen Clarke design, Kilcullen Team Ireland is none other than the former Gamesa aboard which the UK’s Mike Golding took part in two Vendée Globe races, with very different outcomes.

Dropped out

More people have flown in outer space than sailed around the world alone and this fact alone brings out crowds. Over 680,000 have visited the race village during this year’s build up with two million expected by race end next February.

After being a creator of all of Ireland’s previous Whitbread and Volvo race entries with the 1987 NCB Ireland and 2008/’09 Green Dragon he now reflects that these efforts were always “Stop–Start–Stop”.

He maintains that this current solo entry can create “a living legacy” through the young team he has assembled that are highly motivated to do the Barcelona race (double–handed round the world) and the next Vendee Globe too.

This team includes Co Cork single–hander David Kenefick and Co Down’s Andrew Baker. The project manager is Marcus Hutchinson.

“The forecast for Sunday is good, says O’Coineen, and it looks like a north, north-west wind will get us away fast – Britain’s Alex Thomson said this evening that his routing would take him and the foiling boats to the equator in five days. I am taking enough food for 120 days and hope to do it in a 100.”

By comparison, the first non-stop singlehanded world race – the Golden Globe took Robin Knox Johnston about 310 days in 1969, Thomson hopes to do this race in 80.

Shared a dream

Four years later and the Newry couple admit they “may have gotten a bit carried away” as they embark on this year’s ARC in a home built, wooden-hulled ketch.

Howth Yacht Club’s Diana Kissane, Jane Butler, Clara Hynes, Tara Flood and Jennifer Andreasson were 10th overall at the Busan Cup Women’s International Match Race last weekend in Korea. It means the sole Irish competitors in the Womens International Series are 15th from 25 after four events out of five sailed.

The 2018 SB20 Sportsboat European Championships will be hosted by the Royal Irish Yacht Club (RIYC) in Dún Laoghaire it has been announced. The Dublin Bay staging of the event will come a year after a Cowes-based event.The Irish class is keen to recruit new blood to contest the Irish event with second-hand boats on the market from €11,000.

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