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Second Irish entry in the Volvo Ocean Race

29th May 2008
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The Irish Times reports this morning has confirmed that a second Irish entry in to the Volvo Ocean Race (VOR) will be made this week following the purchase of the winning boat from the 2005/6 race by offshore sailor Ger O'Rourke.

O'Rourke was crowned Afloat sailor of the year in 2007, becoming the first sailor to win the coveted trophy twice.

The full article in David O Brien's weekly sailing column points out that after a gap of twenty years since Ireland's last entry, the tiny west coast sailing community will field two of the eight teams in the 2008/9 race at an estimated total cost of €16 million.

This represents the largest investment ever seen in Irish sailing - with a quarter of the Volvo Ocean Race fleet to be based in Ireland's west, which will also host a stopover .

In the middle of the hubbub is Limerick man Ger O'Rourke, who spent the last two years at the top of the world offshore circuit, taking scalps in the Fastnet and the Sydney-Hobart, two blue-water classics, with his Chieftain crew.

Many wondered what the future held for O'Rourke, a successful property developer, but a full VOR campaign, where competitors like team Ericsson spend 40 million Euro on two-boat campaigns, was thought to be out of reach.

O'Rourke's new acquisition, previously named ABN Amro 1, will arrive in Ireland in two week's time following substantial upgrade work to compete with a new generation of Volvo 70 designs, the fastest monohulls in the world.

O'Rourke is pencilled in to start line up in the BMW Round Ireland race, starting on June 21st, against another VO70 from Russia.

The race will be the first time VOR entries from two different teams will face off over any distance, however Ireland's VOR Green team - announced last November - will not be ready to compete, and has yet to announce a crew panel or sponsor.

Afloat.ie will carry more news on this story as it develops.

Full Irish Times article here. (Subscription required)

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