Up to three separate attempts have been launched this Christmas to recover an uncrewed and drifting Irish racing yacht that was at the centre of an international rescue three months ago.
The yacht of Irish solo sailor Gregor McGuckin could be salvaged off the Western Australian coast as early as the new year following the Dubliner's dramatic withdrawal from the Golden Globe Race in a massive storm last September.
Since McGuckin was plucked off his boat 'Hanley Endurance', the dismasted 36-footer has drifted approx 700 miles in an ENE direction and is now 1,200 miles due west of Fremantle, Australia.
Except for confirming the salvage attempt, the 32-year-old Dubliner remains tight-lipped about his plans to recover his boat as race organisers also reveal this week two other bids to retrieve the highly seaworthy design under the international laws of salvage.
Last September McGuckin captured the attention of the sailing world when he was rolled over twice and dismasted during a storm in the treacherous seas of the South Indian Ocean, putting him out of the race but still in certain danger and over a thousand miles from land.
A fellow competitor in the race, an Indian naval commander named Abhilash Tomy, who was also capsized and dismasted in the storm, suffered a severe back injury and was unable to move or steer his yacht.
In a feat of great seamanship, McGuckin ‘jury-rigged’ a small mast and sail on his craft and battled the storm for four days and nights to get close to Tomy and attempt a rescue.
As it turned out a French fisheries patrol vessel, the FPV Osiris, managed to get to Tomy before McGuckin did. The ship then sailed to evacuate Gregor from his yacht to prevent the need for a second rescue mission.
McGuckin and Tomy were treated at the medical centre on Ile Amsterdam (Amsterdam Island) in the Southern Indian Ocean. The Australian naval vessel HMAS Ballarat collected McGuckin to take him to Perth in Western Australia before McGuckin arrived home to Dublin and a hero’s welcome.
Now, as the Irish entry that is still being tracked by satellite gets closer to land, two groups are mounting rival salvage bids.
One is led by an American tugboat skipper who, say, organisers, is looking at the whole thing as a bit of a Boy's Own adventure. The second is a member of the Fremantle Sailing Club who has a large catamaran and is interested in entering the 2022 Golden Globe Race; he has an interest in McGuckin's boat as much as the barrel of Irish whiskey on board the vessel.
The American group are looking to raise money for the operation through crowdfunding, offering a sample of the whiskey.
Recent photographs of the condition of Hanley Energy Endurance were taken by competitor Mark Sinclair who passed the images to organisers earlier this month.
McGuckin promises more news on his recovery bid soon, 'once things have been firmed up', he told the Irish Times.