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'I Will Complete the Vendee Globe' – 'Nin' O'Leary of Ireland Ocean Racing

29th August 2017
macSweeney_podcast
Hugo Boss Trialling in Cork Harbour this week Hugo Boss Trialling in Cork Harbour this week Photo: Bob Bateman

I got to helm Hugo Boss for a while on Tuesday off Cork Harbour. The tiller surprised me. I thought, with the size and length of this IMOCA 60 round-the-world ocean racer, I would be holding a heavy tiller, requiring a lot of effort. It was light and the boat quickly responsive. The grinder, which I tried later, was different, heavy and demanding effort for the main and headsails, with serious sheet loads. A very impressive boat, a foiler, “nothing too complicated in the equipment,” I was told, everything capable of repair by the solo sailor.” The boat designed and built in weight for maximum speed achievement.

I was aboard to meet Cork sailor Nicholas ‘Nin’ O’Leary and Alex Thomson who raced it around the world in the last Vendee Globe, finishing second in January after 74 days, 19 hours and 35 minutes at sea alone, becoming the fastest British solo sailor ever.

Royal Cork Yacht Club member ‘Nin’ O’Leary intends to become the first Irishman to complete the race when he sails the next one in 2020. “I’m a very competitive guy,” he told me aboard, “I’m going to do it.”

He has been sailing with Thomson working-up to that aim. They sailed the Fastnet Race last month and may do the Barcelona World Race next year. 

Listen to ‘Nin’ O’Leary on the PODCAST and to Stewart Hosford, CEO of ‘Ireland Ocean Racing,’ formally launched in Cork this week to “increase the profile of competitive Irish ocean sailing and racing, inspire a new generation of competitors and deliver future Irish champions in the sport.”

Hosford managed the Hugo Boss Alex Thomson campaign of which he has been CEO, so brings to the Irish campaign significant experience and expertise. “This is the start of a journey,” he told me. “It will need sponsors and investors. What can be achieved is huge.”

Only 100 sailors have succeeded in sailing single-handed non-stop around the world and no Irish sailor has yet completed the Vendée Globe. A Cork sailor could do that, if the project gets the support needed.

Hugo Boss left Cork heading for Dublin to spread the word and the prospects for ‘Ireland Ocean Racing.’

LISTEN to the PODCAST here:

Tom MacSweeney presents THIS ISLAND NATION maritime programme on radio stations around Ireland