Allianz and Afloat - Supporting Irish Boating

Ireland's sailing, boating & maritime magazine

In association with ISA Logo Irish Sailing

Damian Foxall lifts Sailor of the Year Award

21st February 2009

Irish ocean yachtsman Damian Foxall was announced on RTE radio last night as Ireland's Sailor of the Year for 2008.Foxall, currently racing on board the Green Dragon, Ireland's entry in the Volvo Ocean Race, was selected by the judges for his outstanding contribution to Ireland's international maritime reputation.

The Kerryman is one of the senior members of the Green Dragon team, having already competed in two Volvo Ocean Races and having taken part in several single-handed ocean races and speed challenges.

The result was announced on Seascapes, the Maritimate radio show by Tom McSweeney. 

He was nominated sailor of the month by Afloat Magazine in February for his win in the double-handed Bareclona World Race, in which he paired with Frenchman Jean Pierre Dick for the non-stop circumnavigation.

Foxall is heading south-east across the Pacific at present, competing in the longest leg of the Volvo Ocean Race, 12,300 miles from the Olympic sailing venue in Qingdao around the southern tip of South America and up to Brazil.

The race will arrive in Ireland for the first time ever in May, with Foxall and countryman Justin Slattery proudly flying the Irish flag on the Boston-Galway leg.

The race will focus the eyes of a global sailing audience on Ireland like never before.

The public made a unique contribution to the result this year for the first time, with a live poll on the website drawing more than 1,600 votes. Judges took the public opinion into consideration, and selected Foxall from the top four in the public vote due to his superlative achievements in 2008.

Other top four nominees included windsurfer John Kenny, who set a new Irish speed record in October, becoming the fastest Irish sailor of all time.

Expedition sailors Geraldine Foley and Peter Maxwell were also nominated for their eco-friendly journeys in Mithril, the 50-foot boat they built themselves.

The Green Dragon is the first Irish entry in a round-the-world ocean race since the 1989-90 edition of the race, then called the Whitbread Round the World Race.

WM Nixon adds: Damian Foxall of Derrynane is the new Irish Independent/ “Sailor of the Year”. His remarkable overall victory last year in the non-stop Barcelona World Race put him in a prime position which other sailors aspired to as the season unfolded, but none were able to match.

The scale of the 39-year-old Kerryman’s global win was emphasized by the official reception extended to Foxall and his co-skipper Jean-Pierre Dick by President MacAleese in Aras an Uachtarainn. Admittedly the two sailors were still looking a bit weatherbeaten by their extraordinary effort. But the reality was that the new superstars were being formally feted up in the Phoenix Park in Dublin while the second-placed boat was still at sea off Spain with some miles to go before completing the race.

But then, in a race of 35,000 miles, when things go right, they can go very right indeed. Equally, though, things can go wrong. Since the Barcelona glory, Jeanne-Pierre Dick has set off alone to race Paprec Virbac II in the Vendee Globe, the ultimate solo circuit. He had to limp into New Zealand after losing a rudder.

And Foxall was scarcely able to pause for breath before he was catapulted into the demanding role of Watch Leader on the Ireland-China Volvo racer Green Dragon in the Volvo Ocean Race. Apart from it being the most challenging fully-crewed race on the planet, it was also a race against time to prepare the new machine. But once the race was under way, Foxall has proven a tower of strength in keeping a difficult show on the road.

But for today, we celebrate the golden moment of 2008, and hail Damian Foxall as our new “Sailor of the Year”.

Have you a nomination for Afloat's sailor of the month award?
We'd like your nomination for next month's award. Let the judges have your choice and reasons in the comments box below. Team

About The Author Team

Email The Author is Ireland's dedicated marine journalism team.

Have you got a story for our reporters? Email us here.

We've got a favour to ask

More people are reading than ever thanks to the power of the internet but we're in stormy seas because advertising revenues across the media are falling fast. Unlike many news sites, we haven’t put up a paywall because we want to keep our marine journalism open. is Ireland's only full–time marine journalism team and it takes time, money and hard work to produce our content.

So you can see why we need to ask for your help.

If everyone chipped in, we can enhance our coverage and our future would be more secure. You can help us through a small donation. Thank you.

Direct Donation to Afloat button

Featured Sailing School

INSS sidebutton

Featured Clubs

dbsc mainbutton
Howth Yacht Club
Kinsale Yacht Club
National Yacht Club
Royal Cork Yacht Club
Royal Irish Yacht club
Royal Saint George Yacht Club

Featured Brokers

leinster sidebutton

Featured Webcams

Featured Car Brands

subaru sidebutton

Featured Associations

ISA sidebutton
isora sidebutton

Featured Events 2020

Featured Chandleries

CHMarine Afloat logo
osm sidebutton
viking sidebutton

Featured Sailmakers

northsails sidebutton
uksails sidebutton

Featured Marinas

dlmarina sidebutton

Featured Blogs

W M Nixon - Sailing on Saturday
podcast sidebutton
mansfield sidebutton
BSB sidebutton
sellingboat sidebutton

Please show your support for Afloat by donating