The biggest boat in Sunday's Round Ireland Yacht Race has sailed between the Arctic and Antarctic. It is Celtic Spirit of Fastnet, a sturdy 72-foot Cruiser/Racer. Its skipper Michael Holland became Afloat's first Sailor of the Month in 2008 after he voyaged successfully with his 72ft ketch between the Arctic and Antarctic. In essence, this superbly-planned cruise was a private expedition to some decidedly rugged places. Private it may have been, but it later went public, as Celtic Spirit’s skipper and crew were awarded the Irish Cruising Club’s supreme award, the Faulkner Cup.
Just down in size by ten foot to the Celtic Spirit is a real flying machine, Spirit of Rosslare Europort, an IMOCA 60, which is expected to take line honours.
The sixty-footer was designed to compete in the Vendée Globe solo non-stop around the world race. The boat has already done three solo round the world races since it was launched in 1998. Two of these occasions were Vendée Globe races when it was sailed by one person who spent three months alone in what is referred to as “The Everest of Sailing”, the toughest and longest event in any sport.
The boat will be skippered by Steve White, who is a well recognised round the world sailor having come 8th in the last Vendée Globe Race, when only 11 out of 30 finished the 26,000 mile course.
Dublin based professional sailor Paul Ó Riain will be assisting Steve. Paul has competed in the Round Ireland Yacht Race twice as well as competing on the single handed Figaro circuit in France and crossing the Atlantic twice. Paul and Steve will be joined by four Dun Laoghaire based amateur sailors: Alan McGettigan, Peter O’Malley, Morgan Crowe and Declan Hayes.
A spokesperson for Rosslare Europort said that: “As one of Ireland’s Premier commercial ports, we recognise the value and importance of Ireland’s great maritime culture and we are delighted to be involved with the Spirit of Rosslare Europort”.
A preview of the 2010 Round Ireland along with lots of other summer sailing news is packed into the Summer issue of Afloat magazine in newsagents now!
More on the Round Ireland Yacht Race:A Round up of 80 stories on the 2010 Round Ireland Yacht Race