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A new exhibition marking the 50th anniversary of the global circumnavigation by yacht by the late Commander Bill King opens in Galway City Museum this week.

A display of objects and memorabilia relating to his voyage, loaned by his family and involving Galway Bay Sailing Club support, will be exhibited at the museum.

Members of the King family will attend the event on Thursday, November 30th, when there will be a special showing of “King of the Waves'', a film written and directed by Luke Leslie.

There will also be reflections from his daughter Leonie King, son Tarka King and Johnny Shorten of GBSC.

The submarine commander and solo sailor was a lifelong honorary member of GBSC, and also hunted with the Galway Blazers.

His grandson and musician Cian Finn will premiere a very special song “Survive”, which he has composed especially for the occasion.

Read more about Bill KIng on Afloat here and listen to Leonie King's memories of her late father in a podcast here

Published in Bill King
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Dun Laoghaire sailor Mark O'Connor has solo transatlantic ambitions and here, the 23-year-old UCD engineering student details his journey to 2023 Mini Transat qualification

To qualify for a Mini Transat, one must complete 1500 miles of Classe Mini Regattas and complete a 1000-mile solo qualification loop.

The Atlantic route takes you from France, around the Scillies to avoid the Penzance TSS, to Conningbeg, to the Rochebonne Plateau (near to La Rochelle) around Ile de ré (La Rochelle) and then back to where you started. I am pleased to say that I have now completed both of these! I departed for my Qualification on the 6th of August 2022, and it took me 8 days and 18 hours to complete the 1000nm (1852km) course. Below is a brief summary of the trip. I have now collated my necessary documents and submitted them to the class in Lorient for Ratification.

I have since delivered the boat to Concarneau for my next and final regatta of the season, the Dou Concarneau. As the name would suggest, it is a double-handed race, consisting of 330 miles starting and finishing in Concarneau. It is in Concarneau that I am planning to spend the winter as I have found a place in the Mini “Pole au Large” Training Centre. I am really pleased with this, as it is such an amazing opportunity to improve my sailing from some of the best coaches in the game.

I left Douarnez on the Friday with a fresh NE breeze, which gave me a nice fetch through the “Chenal du four”. A leaking petrol can was a slight nuisance as it was making the cockpit smell, but I was careful to ensure that it stayed in the cockpit and that no petrol made it to the inside of the boat. After a day or so, when the waves calmed down, I was able to decant the remained of the jerry can into the outboard.

Leaving the bay to start my Qualifier. Courtesy Flag flying in front of the Cap de la Chevre Coast Guard StationLeaving the bay to start my Qualifier. Courtesy Flag flying in front of the Cap de la Chevre Coast Guard Station

The first crossing of the English Channel was very pleasant, with 16 knots for a one-sided beat. A wind shift mid-way through allowed me to make the Scillies without a further tack. Having my phone on board was a bit of a novelty, as I wouldn’t normally have it for Mini Races. Getting forecasts and updates from Home was nice, but it was also a bit of a distraction at times.
After the Scilly Isles, the wind dropped off, which meant it was slow going on a beat up towards Waterford. About 20 miles from Conningbeg, the wind filled in with about 12 knots, which meant I rounded in the early hours of the morning. Then it was a 120 mile Run back down to the Scillies, unfortunately, the wind shut off the day after turning back south, meaning I was in for my second drift day of the qualifying loop. However, I had heeded the advice given to me by fellow ‘ministes’, and brought a few books to read when there was no breeze. (This particular day, I finished Richard Osman’s The Man Who Died Twice’, which I would highly recommend). These calm days were also a great opportunity to get sight readings using the sextant and to take recordings of the Forecasts revied via the LW radio. Both of which are mandatory requirements for the qualification.

Rounding Conningbeg cardinal mark during the nightRounding Conningbeg cardinal mark during the night

For my second crossing of the English channel, I had a lovely stable 15 knots just over the back quarter for the first 3/4s of the crossing. Just after entering the channel, I managed to wrap the kite during a launch just after sunrise which made a small tear. Nothing unrepairable, but this meant I was back to the Medium Spi for a couple of hours while I dried it and patched it up. This nice 15 knots of breeze picked up to 30 knots of breeze as I came around the outside of the Ushant TSS. This was great fun surfing down the waves at 8 or 9 knots. This lasted well into the night. Just after midnight while I was surfing with the code 5 spinnaker up, I had a flyby by the ocean 50, Gitana at 26 knots!

All the surfing made for great progress towards the Rochebonne plateau, which I rounded on day 6. It was a tight fetch into La Rochelle to round Ile de Ré, which gradually turned into a run later in the day. It was again light winds by the time I had reached Ile de Re and set up for my approach to the bridge. Unfortunately, the tide was against me in this narrow straight. Therefore I crossed it, and tacked in close to the shore and the commercial port in order to hide from it. I spent the next few hours under the cover of darkness tacking alongside the cargo ships and sneaking closer to the bridge. As I was getting ready to pass beneath it, the wind increased, and the tidal stream was easing so I managed to pass through with little interference. I even overtook another Mini during my short tacking efforts! Not that it was a race, but the satisfaction of knowing my efforts were rewarded was a great moral boost. After passing clear of the fish traps, it was time for a well-deserved sleep, while travelling under the code 0. I made good northerly progress for the rest of the night and the next morning all while catching up on some valuable sleep. It was later after I had passed the Glenans around noon, I encountered my third and final ‘drift day’. This one was the most frustrating by far, As I only had around 50 or so miles until my finish, but with 1/3 knots of wind, I wasn’t going anywhere in a hurry. I spent the day doing some small splicing jobs around the boat and a general tidy up.
Arriving at the La Rochelle/Ile de Ré Bridge with 27 degrees at 9 o'clock in the eveningArriving at the La Rochelle/Ile de Ré Bridge with 27 degrees at 9 o'clock in the evening

Around seven o’clock that evening, the wind filled in. With the wind, however, came the lightning squalls. I went from 3 knots to 20 in the space of fifteen minutes, needed to reef the main in between. As a precaution, I unplugged the VHF antenna from the masthead. The lightning storms kept rolling in all night with winds reaching 25 gusting 30. It was under these conditions that I had to cross the notorious Raz de Sien in, with the current against me. When the lightning started to fork a couple of miles from the boat, I decided it would be a good idea to isolate the batteries and electronics, ie, I’d be flying without my instruments or autopilot.

Thankfully by the early hours of the morning, the storms were mainly in the distance, so I was able to turn back on the pilot and get some quick naps. Around 6am I could once again see the Green light at the end of the pier wall of Douarnenez, meaning my 1000-mile qualification loop was at a close.

My Take home lessons from the qualification loop were, 1) Always triple-check things, especially when you are tired. It's worth taking the extra 30 seconds to catch a problem rather than wrapping a kite etc. 2) Preparation for the smallest things is key. One of the nicest luxuries was putting on a fresh and dry set of socks! Before I left, I vacuum bagged some of my clothes in preparation for the cabin being soaked with water. This paid dividends after a week at sea. Prepping my food by making it easily accessible and divided into day bags meant it was easy to be disciplined with rations, and I would always have something to hand 3) Don’t stress about things you can’t control; the wind will come or it won’t.

Published in Solo Sailing
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42 sailors have now entered the next Global Solo Challenge which will start from La Coruna in Spain, the first boats setting off in September of next year.

The 42nd entrant, announced this week is Italian Riccardo Tosetto, a yachting professional. He joins solo sailors from the UK, France, Australia, Spain, Belgium, USA, Estonia, Switzerland and Holland.

Jamie Young of the Killary Adventure Centre was the sixth sailor to declare entry in the race. He has sailed 200,000 nautical miles at all latitudes. Signing-up he told the organisers why he entered: “Primarily, because I could participate in my own boat and keep the budget reasonable. I have owned Killary Flyer for over 20 of her 40 years and have full confidence in her to keep us both safe and do well. My first few transAatlantics were in very simple boats – no engine/toilet – just bucket and chuck it/no VHF or other radio – just sextant and dead reckoning with paper charts….forgotten most of it now.”

The event is organised by the UK registered company Marco Nannini LTD, of Harrow, Middlesex, as “single-handed around the world east about on production boats, built prior to 2005, between 32 and 55 feet, non-stop by the three great Capes without assistance.”

Boats will be grouped by performance and set off in successive departures over 11 weeks. “Once at sea, there are no classes. The faster boats will have to try to catch up with the slower boats, the pursuit factor creating competitive interest and a fascinating event for the public and sponsors. The first boat to cross the finish line wins. The performance differential between the boats is taken into account in staggering the departures, eliminating the need to calculate corrected times,” say the organisers.

Riccardo TosettoRiccardo Tosetto

The 42nd entrant, Riccardo Tosetto, will be sailing a Class 40. “From the age of eighteen my passion has become my job. I spend more than eight months of each year at sea on a boat. Solo sailing makes you feel at one with your boat, puts you to the test, you have to overcome every obstacle by putting all possible energy into it.”

Published in Solo Sailing
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The French ocean sailing pioneer Bernard Moitessier became famous for trying not to be famous. In the Golden Globe challenge of 1968 with his Colin Archer-style steel ketch Joshua, he was very much in contention in the non-stop circumnavigating contest south of the Great Capes. But the more miles that he logged, the more he reckoned that it was almost an insult to the natural wonders of the world and the sea to sail competitively round the globe. So he gradually slowed down and when he got to Cape Horn, instead of turning left and heading to a finish in Europe, he continued on eastward for the second time in the Great Southern Ocean, and eventually hid himself away among the islands of the Pacific.

Jim Schofield (57), a photographer from Blessington in County Wicklow who sails from Poolbeg Yacht & Boat Club in Dublin Port, will be known to regular readers since last year for having self-built a 19ft plywood ocean voyaging boat for the McIntyre Challenge, which aims to provide an affordable version of the classic four-yearly MiniTransat.

The framework of an idea……Jim Schofield building Molly Claire in the confined spaces of his extended garage in BlessingtonThe framework of an idea……Jim Schofield building Molly Claire in the confined spaces of his extended garage in Blessington

Despite all the inherent problems in such a totally home-based project being made even more challenging by COVID-caused delays, he completed his boat Molly Claire and sailed her on time to Lanzarote to join the rest of the inaugural flotilla in November. But by then he’d decided that he wouldn’t seriously race in the Transatlantic challenge to Antigua, but would sail in his own good time, with the objective of finishing on December 26th, St Stephens Day.

It was as well he’d set this modest target beforehand, as the first boat finished on December 13th, yet with Jim’s very limited means of communication, those at home who were concerned with his whereabouts knew to expect little info until after Christmas.

Jim at sea – in the Trade Wind passage across the Atlantic, the nights were restless as darkness often brought squalls. Photo: Jim SchofieldJim at sea – in the Trade Wind passage across the Atlantic, the nights were restless as darkness often brought squalls. Photo: Jim Schofield

And then Jim did a Moitessier of sorts. Having reached the Caribbean, he heard the other boats were headed from Antigua to the French island of Martinique. He re-shaped his course, created his own charts, and reached Martinique in the small hours of the morning of Christmas Day.

If you want to slip under the radar completely, the shrewdest move is to arrive at an unexpected destination on Christmas morning, when the only traffic anticipated is a large airborne sleigh driven by an unfeasibly jolly fat man in a red suit, and towed by reindeers led by a nasally-challenged neurotic called Rudolph.

Molly Claire and her tired but happy skipper were none of these things. And they became even more invisible as the Sydney-Hobart Race took over global sailing attention. Which was maybe just as Jim Schofield wanted it be, for he was left in peace to snug down his little boat for shipping back to Europe, while at the same time preparing to avail of arrangements to fly home to Ireland and Blessington via Paris.

The ensign of the Poolbeg Yacht & Boat Cub flies proudly in the northeast trade wind at Martinique. Phot: Jim SchofieldThe ensign of the Poolbeg Yacht & Boat Cub flies proudly in the northeast trade wind at Martinique. Photo: Jim Schofield

Thus Christmas was a lively time for Blessington sailing in distant parts, as Jim Nixon of Blessington ancestry raced his 27th Rolex Sydney-Hobart as Sailing Master on the restored vintage S&S 34 Azzura, and finished an excellent fourth overall, while in Martinique Jim Schofield was still getting used to the idea that his little garage-built boat had sailed the Atlantic. He takes up the story here:


The five boats departed Lanzarote on the 17th November, a day early to avail of the dropping wind. I moved slowly down east of the Canaries and met variable airs off the African coast until the 23rd when Molly Claire finale got moving well. Within two days, the wind and seas had built up and I stayed well reefed until the 2nd of December when we were just west of the Cape Verdes. I later heard this time was 30 to 35 knot winds and 3 - 4 metre seas. Big seas for a 19ft boat……

Early December began our open ocean voyage properly, full trade winds and seas, and no going back. A one-way conveyor belt to the Leeward Islands. The grind continued every day, eating, sleeping, checking Molly Claire and keeping my mind and body in order. Days were hot and, sunny with consistent wind and wave. Then every evening, the cloud built all around and after dark, the wind usually picked up and the odd squall kept me on my toes.

By the 16th of December, I saw on my little satellite text machine that the other four had reached Antigua. I was a long way behind but since I was not racing, it came as no surprise. Rocking on until the 19th of December, the plan changed to head for Martinique. The other boats were being moved there so I tacked back again south across the Trades. I had charts of Antiqua and nearby islands but not Martinique, so I spent several hours drawing pilotage plans from Navionics on my phone.

Conditions in Martinique were everything Jim had hoped for. Photo: Jim SchofieldConditions in Martinique were everything Jim had hoped for. Photo: Jim Schofield

On Christmas Eve, I shouted “Land Ho” when I saw land for the first time in 35 days. It was a grey day and blowing well. As night rolled on, I sailed just south of Phare de L’Ilet Cabrits lighthouse and tacked north into St. Annes Bay. I saw dozens of boats anchored as fireworks flared up into the sky and music blared from the bars along the shore. Sailing as close as I dared, I shone my head torch into the water and was delighted to see white sand no more than 5 metres below. Down came the sails, over went the anchor and I sat in the cockpit just soaking in the end of our voyage. I had arrived at 1.30 on Christmas morning. Next day, I radioed Eteinne, the first competitor home. He organised a French sailor friend to tow me into La Marin marina.

The next three days were spent getting Molly Claire ready to be shipped home and I flew home via Paris, in time to be back for New Year.

Overall, the voyage was a lot tougher than I had expected, both physically and mentally. I found depths of persistence and resilience I had not known were there before, which can’t be a bad thing!

A snug berth at journey’s end. To put this voyage in perspective, the home-built Molly Claire is the same hull length as a Squib, while she is a foot shorter than a Flying Fifteen, and a foot longer than a Shannon One Design or a Belfast Lough Waverley. Photo: Jim SchofieldA snug berth at journey’s end. To put this voyage in perspective, the home-built Molly Claire is the same hull length as a Squib, while she is a foot shorter than a Flying Fifteen, and a foot longer than a Shannon One Design or a Belfast Lough Waverley. Photo: Jim Schofield

More on the design of the Transat 580 here

Published in Solo Sailing

Pierre Le Roy sailing the uber-scow Teamwork has a good lead in the Euorochef Minitransat 2021 as he closes towards the finish at Saint-Francois in Guadeloupe 200 miles away, where he is expected to cross the line tomorrow (Friday) evening.

With nearly a hundred miles in hand on the next boat, Fabio Muzzolinini’s Tartine, he has been benefitting from being first to the fresher winds on the western side of the Atlantic, circumstances which had dictated that the fleet trended well south in search of better pressure in mid-ocean.

Ireland’s Yannick Lemonnier, sailing the veteran 2004 Sam Manuard design Port of Galway, was at one stage showing a class best placing of tenth in the Proto division, but today (Thursday) he was recorded in 17th place, with 750 miles still to sail to the finish.

Race tracker here

Published in Solo Sailing

The McIntyre Globe 5.80 design was created by Australian voyager and adventurer Don McIntyre to bring Mini Transat-style campaigning within the reach of independent sailors with minimal resources. Photographer Jim Schofield (57) of Blessington in County Wicklow - a member of Poolbeg Y&BC in Dublin - was one of those attracted to the idea, and he built his own Globe 5.80 (it’s just 19ft long) in a shed at his home with the November 2021 Globe 5.80 Transat in mind.

Despite all the difficulties posed by COVID lockdowns, he has the boat completed, but getting it to the start line in Lagos in Portugal in time for the start scheduled for tomorrow (Sunday, October 31st) was best done by road trailing. Even that has seen the count-down time being severely reduced, but as the other entrants know only too well of the challenges involved, they have postponed their start until Monday 1st November in order to welcome the Blessington skipper into the fleet, even if he does not anticipate starting unit Thursday (November 4th).

The official statement confirmed the changes:

The Race Director of the G580T Lutz Kohne, has delayed the start of the McIntyre Adventure Globe 5.80 Transat 24hrs to Monday 1st NOV. at 1200 hrs UTC. While the weather was acceptable for Sunday 31st, the entrants all agreed it would be best to await the arrival of Irish entrant JIM SCHOFIELD, who has been towing his yacht ‘Molly Claire” from Ireland by car and is not due to arrive in Marina de Lagos until Sunday night. He will then launch, rig and prepare to sail in the following days. Jim has made a huge effort to be with the fleet and join the race and is now not expected to start until Thursday, catching up with the fleet officially in Marina Rubicon in Lanzarote.

All entrants want to have a drink with him before they set off! That is how the Globe 5.80 family works.

“Our fleet is the same size as the VOLVO Race fleet, so that is cool and the entrants are one big family and this is all for them!” Said Don McIntyre, founder of the 5.80 class and skipper of TREKKA.

Follow the live Tracker on and live coverage of the start on Globe 5.80 Transat Facebook Page.

The Globe 580 concept and design was created by Australian Don McIntyreThe Globe 580 concept and design was created by Australian Don McIntyre

Published in Solo Sailing
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After a three day, no-shore-contact stopover at anchor off Portimao in southern Portugal to sort rudder and electronics problems, Limerick’s Peter Lawless (52) is southward bound again in his Rival 41 Waxwing in his bid to be the first Irishman t sail solo round the world non-stop. Under the accepted rules of such contests, challengers are permitted to anchor in some convenient roadstead, but are not allowed to avail of any shoreside assistance whatsoever.

The problem with the steering was completely solvable, but it took time as it involved the clearing of lockers. However, the masthead units came adrift because of a broken bracket, and they are now operating from a new location at the cockpit. After the frustrations of endless headwinds once the Bay of Biscay had been crossed, the weather has now settled down, and currently there are fair winds the whole way to the Cape Verde Islands.

Track chart here

Published in Solo Sailing

Things had been looking good for Tom Dolan on Smurfit Kappa-Kingspan going into the final 120-mile Isles of Scilly to Roscoff leg of Stage 3 in the Figaro Solo 2021.

He’d worked his way up to 8th as they made their way in difficult winds across the English Channel, but with first one side of the fleet being favoured, and then the other, the Irish skipper seemed too often to be with the wrong group, until by the time he finished at 15.13.03 hrs French time this afternoon, he was back in 19th place in the 34-boat fleet. More detailed analysis from the Dolan Team here

Tracker here

Published in Tom Dolan

In the exceptionally challenging sailing of the 620-mile third stage of the Figaro Solo 2021, Tom Dolan on Smurfit Kappa-Kingspan was lying eighth as he rounded the Bishop Rock at the western point of the Isles of Scilly at 1400 hours today (Wednesday) and shaped his course for the 120-mile final leg to Roscoff in Brittany. To say that his fortunes have been up and down really understates it, as he has been in a best placing of sixth, but equally for a while was back in 30th in the 34-boat fleet in which the boats have seldom seen more than a six miles range across the fleet, but now in the closing stages are beginning to experience a greater spread.

Details in Tracker here

Published in Tom Dolan

Solo sailor Peter Lawless (52) of the noted Limerick voyaging family has met with mixed fortunes in Week One of his challenge to be the first Irishman to sail non-stop single-handed round the world south of the five great capes. Having taken his departure from Kilrush in the Shannon Estuary on Friday, August 21st with his Rival 41 Waxwing, he had to contend with winds from forward of the beam - sometimes quite strong - for a while, but then he benefitted for a few days from the northeasters which were making things tough for the Figaro fleet slugging their way from the Spanish coast back up to Brittany.

A special feature of his project is that although he has electronic equipment, he is navigating by sextant and paper chart in the classic style. On his way south, though, he particularly noted the high level of shipping on the Transatlantic route westward of the English Channel, and much appreciated the protection provided by the AIS system. But a problem arose when the masthead aerial serving it came partially adrift, and he had a painfully bruising time at the masthead bringing it safely down to deck level for temporary deployment from the cockpit.

The fact that the high-pressure area which normally sits in summer over the Azores has in recent days been settled over Ireland has interfered with the normal wind pattens between northwest Spain and the Azores, and he has been forced onto a more westerly course instead of being helped by the northerlies which usually blow off the coasts of northwest Spain and Portugal.

Waxwing is a well-proven veteran of world voyaging. Twenty years ago, Peter and Susan Gray of Dun Laoghaire were in the midst of a classic global circulation with this rugged little ship, in a venture which took them to many islands. This latest challenge by Peter Lawless is something completely different - more details here

Peter Lawless is facing an eight months solo sailing challengePeter Lawless is facing an eight months solo sailing challenge

Listen to Peter Lawless's recent podcast with Afloat's Tom MacSweeney here

Published in Solo Sailing
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RORC's Caribbean 600 Race

The 14th edition of the RORC Caribbean 600 will start from Antigua on Tuesday, 14th February 2023.

The 600nm course circumnavigates 11 Caribbean Islands starting from Fort Charlotte, English Harbour, Antigua and heads north as far as St Martin and south to Guadeloupe taking in Barbuda, Nevis, St Kitts, Saba and St Barth's


2020 - Tilmar Hansen, Outsider, TP52 (GER)
2019 - David and Peter Askew, Wizard, Volvo 70 (USA)
2018 - George David, Rambler 88, Maxi (USA)
2017 - Hap Fauth, Bella Mente, JV72 (USA)
2016 - George Sakellaris, Maxi 72, Proteus (USA)
2015 - Hap Fauth, JV72, Bella Mente (USA)
2014 - George Sakellaris, RP72, Shockwave (USA)
2013 - Ron O'Hanley, Privateer, Cookson 50 (USA)
2012 - Niklas Zennström's JV72, Rán (GBR)
2011 - George David, Rambler 100, JK 100 (USA)
2010 - Karl C L Kwok, Beau Geste, Farr 80 (HKG)
2009 - Adrian Lee, Lee Overlay Partners, Cookson 50 (IRL)


Multihull record (2019): Giovanni Soldini, Maserati, Multi 70 (ITA) - 30 hours, 49 minutes, 00 seconds
(I day 6 hrs 49 mins 0 secs)

Monohull record (2018): George David, Rambler 88, Maxi (USA) - 37 hours, 41 minutes, 45 seconds
(1 day 13 hrs 41 mins 45 secs)

At a Glance - RORC Caribbean 600 2024

The 15th anniversary edition of the RORC Caribbean 600 starts in Antigua on 19th February 2024.

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