As Afloat reported earlier this week, Enda O’Coineen has confirmed he will be skippering a 'Team Ireland' Vendée Globe Challenge, starting on November 6. An Irish skipper has so far never entered what is considered to be the toughest sailing race in the world; a solo non–stop circumnavigation. O'Coineen completed the qualification stage for the race last December by taking a podium position in the Ocean Masters transatlantic race from the Caribbean to France.
O'Coineen has also announced this afternoon that former Derry Clipper Skipper Sean McCarter, who has his sights set on the Vendée Globe 2020, is lined up as a 'Reserve Skipper' for the current Challenge, as is Irish solo sailor David Kenefick from Cork, an accomplished Figaro sailor. A 'substitute' skipper, according to the Vendee Globe Notice of Race, could replace O'Coineen by midnight the night before the race start as long as they satisfy the race rules.
Ireland’s Marcus Hutchinson is the Project Director, bringing a wealth of Volvo and Americas Cup experience to the team.
Today, in the Irish Embassy in Paris, Team Ireland was joined by French and Irish business interests, kindly hosted by Ambassador Geraldine Byrne Nason for the announcement.
'Team Ireland' Vendée Globe Challenge has been created to enable future aspirational sailors to utilise the expertise, infrastructure, and value created by the campaign. According to O'Coineen, the new Team Ireland also draws on the legacy of the Green Dragon, the Volvo Ocean Race, and the Whitbread Race. A partner network of sponsors is being invited to support the Team, which will also promote Ireland’s 'Atlantic Youth Trust' charity.
Team Ireland will be racing on board the Owen Clarke designed 'Kilcullen Voyager', formerly skippered by Mike Golding. The 60–foot yacht is currently undergoing a refit in France ahead of a busy programme leading up to the race start.
Enda O’Coineen, the man behind both the NCB Ireland and Green Dragon projects as well as the Volvo Ocean Race visits to Galway, previously twice crossed the Atlantic alone in inflatable boats and more recently finished on the podium in a transatlantic race.