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Nin O’Leary Aims Even Higher With Alex Thomson Fastnet Berth

25th July 2017
Alex Thomson (left) and Nicholas O'Leary will race together in the Fastnet Race Alex Thomson (left) and Nicholas O'Leary will race together in the Fastnet Race

It was the coolest thing so far in all of 2017's sailing. In the midst of the Royal Cork DinghyFest which he was organising, Nin O’Leary took off for just one day to skipper Adam Gosling’s new JPK 10.80 Yes! In the huge-fleet Round the Island Race writes W M Nixon. In such a turnout, winning overall by a few seconds is the norm. But young Nin did it in style, something like eight minutes clear, an astonishing performance.

It was a massive achievement which did no harm at all in distracting attention from another project brewing up in the O’Leary camp in as much secrecy as could be managed. The Vendee Globe 2020, no less. This is very serious stuff. This afternoon, Afloat.ie can reveal that the first public step has been taken on the campaign trail, with Nin signing up to race as co-skipper with Alex Thompson on Hugo Boss in the Rolex Fastnet Race on August 6th. Now that - that is super cool. For those still gasping, here’s the Press Release:

British skipper Alex Thomson will compete in the Fastnet Race with Irish sailor Nin O’Leary which starts on Sunday 6th August. Thomson, who finished second in the Vendee Globe earlier this year stated ‘I am looking forward to taking part in the Fastnet again and to have Nin as my co-skipper. It is great to be able to support the new generation of offshore sailors.’ O’Leary, a young, talent in offshore sailing has been training with the Alex Thomson Racing team this summer and assisted the team in preparations ahead of the Vendee Globe in 2016 where he completed over 1500nm onboard HUGO BOSS. O’Leary stated ‘I am thrilled about the opportunity to race with Alex and onboard HUGO BOSS.Alex has set the benchmark in offshore sailing and being chosen to co-skipper the boat with him is a huge honour and allows me to start the preparation for my own Vendee Globe campaign in 2020. We are looking forward to a great race together.’

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The Rolex Fastnet Race - This biennial offshore pilgrimage attracts crews from all walks of life:- from aspiring sailors to professional crews; all ages and all professions. Some are racing for charity, others for a personal challenge. For the world's top professional sailors, it is a 'must-do' race. For some, it will be their first-ever race, and for others, something they have competed in for over 50 years! The race attracts the most diverse fleet of yachts, from beautiful classic yachts to some of the fastest racing machines on the planet – and everything in between.  The testing course passes eight famous landmarks along the route: The Needles, Portland Bill, Start Point, the Lizard, Land’s End, the Fastnet Rock, Bishop’s Rock off the Scillies and Plymouth breakwater (now Cherbourg for 2021 and 2023). After the start in Cowes, the fleet heads westward down The Solent, before exiting into the English Channel at Hurst Castle. The finish is in Plymouth, Devon via the Fastnet Rock, off the southern tip of Ireland

  • The leg across the Celtic Sea to (and from) the Fastnet Rock is known to be unpredictable and challenging. The competitors are exposed to fast-moving Atlantic weather systems and the fleet often encounter tough conditions
  • Flawless decision-making, determination and total commitment are the essential requirements. Crews have to manage and anticipate the changing tidal and meteorological conditions imposed by the complex course
  • The symbol of the race is the Fastnet Rock, located off the southern coast of Ireland. Also known as the Teardrop of Ireland, the Rock marks an evocative turning point in the challenging race
  • Once sailors reach the Fastnet Rock, they are well over halfway to the finish in Plymouth. The lighthouse first shone its light on New Year’s Day in 1854
  • Fastnet Rock originally had six keepers (now unmanned), with four on the rock at a time with the other two on leave. Each man did four weeks on, two weeks off

At A Glance – Fastnet Race

  • The world's largest offshore yacht race
  • The biennial race is 605 nautical miles - Cowes, Fastnet Rock, Plymouth
  • A fleet of over 400 yachts regularly will take part
  • The international fleet is made up of over 26 countries
  • Multihull course record: 1 day, 8 hours, 48 minutes (2011, Banque Populaire V)
  • Monohull course record: 1 day, 18 hours, 39 minutes (2011, Volvo 70, Abu Dhabi)
  • Largest IRC Rated boat is the 100ft (30.48m) Scallywag 100 (HKG)
  • Some of the Smallest boats in the fleet are 30 footers
  • Rolex SA has been a longstanding sponsor of the race since 2001
  • The first race was in 1925 with 7 boats. The Royal Ocean Racing Club was set up as a result

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