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Great Foze Rock Reclaimed for Ireland in Magenta Circuit

14th October 2020
Phaedo 3, record breaking Round Ireland in an anti-clockwise direction in 2016, decides that the Great Foze Rock is not an Irish island, but is part of the Azores archipelago, and may therefore be left to starboard Phaedo 3, record breaking Round Ireland in an anti-clockwise direction in 2016, decides that the Great Foze Rock is not an Irish island, but is part of the Azores archipelago, and may therefore be left to starboard

Female Two-handed Round Ireland Record Day Two 1400hrs: The Great Foze Rock has come and gone well to starboard at 12.15hrs today in the lengthening litany of marks of the course as Pam Lee and Cat Hunt continue their impressive campaign to set up a Two-Handed Female Crew Round Ireland Record. The most westerly outlier of the Blasket Islands and therefore the most westerly point of the orthodox circuit course, the Great Foze is completely unmarked by any navigational aid for day or night, and has been the bane of many a Round Ireland Race navigator's life as he or she tries to keep clear of it in the dark, while not causing the crewmates to sail one inch further than is necessary.

As it's not specifically named in the circuit specifications, when Lloyd Thornburg's Mod 70 Phaedo was setting up a new record in an anti-clockwise direction in 2016, they went inside the Great Foze as it provided their helicopter crew with fantastic footage through mixing it a bit more with the dramatic scenery of the magnificent Blasket Islands.

Subsequently, in order to preserve the sanctity of Phaedo 3's new record, on April 1st 2017 Afloat.ie declared that the rock had become Grande Ilheu de Foze, and was now officially not Irish at all, but had become part of Portugal's Arquipelago dos Acores (Azores Archipelago).

Way way far back in the day, however, the lonely rock was treated as being very Irish indeed by the late Chieftain of Inishvickillaune Charlie Haughey. On one exceptionally calm summer's day with the Atlantic like glass, he and his family and guests on Inishvickillaune ventured out to the Great Foze, where they managed to get ashore and have a party, and in departing they thoughtfully left behind a bottle of Cork Dry Gin and several glasses to enable the next visitors to do the same.

Sailing Magenta Round Ireland Tracker

Such thoughts will have been far from the minds of Pam Lee and Cat Hunt as they sail north with the wind well forward of the starboard beam and making between 7 and 8 knots, but with things looking good for a further veering of the now moderate breeze to give them more pressure and a better slant to make faster progress towards the coast of Connacht.

But before leaving the Great Foze altogether, let's hear it for Pippa Hare who, in the stormy Round Britain & Ireland race of 2018, actually remembered to take a selfie with that loneliest of rocks in the background. It really is there, folks, and all you navigators who sweated blood making sure you avoided it weren't wasting your time.

Pippa Hare and the Great Foze Rock in 2018Pippa Hare and the Great Foze Rock in 2018

WM Nixon

About The Author

WM Nixon

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William M Nixon has been writing about sailing in Ireland for many years in print and online, and his work has appeared internationally in magazines and books. His own experience ranges from club sailing to international offshore events, and he has cruised extensively under sail, often in his own boats which have ranged in size from an 11ft dinghy to a 35ft cruiser-racer. He has also been involved in the administration of several sailing organisations.

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