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Nin O’Leary Skippers New Irish Contender For 2020 Vendée Globe Fleet

16th August 2017
Nin O’Leary will skipper Ireland Ocean Racing’s proposed Vendée Globe challenge in 2020 Nin O’Leary will skipper Ireland Ocean Racing’s proposed Vendée Globe challenge in 2020 Credit: Ireland Ocean Racing

#ior2020 - Ireland’s opportunity to compete in global offshore sailing competitions received a boost yesterday (Tuesday 15 August) at the launch of Ireland Ocean Racing, a new initiative with aspirations to compete in the 2020 Vendée Globe.

Team skipper Nin O’Leary aims to be the first Irish sailor to complete the world’s only solo, non-stop and unassisted round-the-world sailing race – hopefully inspiring a new generation of Irish offshore sailors and racers along the way.

“This is an exciting day for Irish offshore sailing,” said Ireland Ocean Racing chief executive Stewart Hosford. “There is such a strong maritime heritage in Ireland and a long list of incredible sailors from Joe English, Damian Foxall, Justin Slattery, Gordon Maguire to Enda O’Coineen.

“We have many great achievements on the water already under our belts. Now is the time to pull together and create a focused plan to pave the way for some significant initiatives and achievements over the coming 10 years and beyond.”

Having managed the UK’s ocean sailing success story, the HUGO BOSS/Alex Thomson Racing campaign, for over a decade, the management of Ireland Ocean Racing believes it has significant experience and expertise in what it takes to create a winning strategy for Ireland in offshore racing.

“Sailors are incredible sportspeople, having to tackle all sorts of weather conditions on seas and oceans around the world,” said Hosford. “Whether competing individually or as part of team, the skills and acumen required for offshore yacht racing make it one of the most challenging sports today.

“Bringing the exciting sport to more people in Ireland is really important to Ireland Ocean Racing – from participants, competitors, sponsors, spectators and supporters. It is our aim to deliver success for Ireland internationally in this sport, and we believe that we have the talent in Ireland, as well as the sporting infrastructure and capabilities to be world class in this field.”

Afloat’s keelboat sailor of the month for July, Nin O’Leary will skipper the Irish yacht in Ireland Ocean Racing’s first project, aiming to complete what previous Irish challengers set out to do — like Enda O’Coineen in the most recent Vendée Globe.

Nin has competed across a range of sailing and racing events from an early age and has raced with his father Anthony O’Leary and brothers, Olympic sailor Peter O’Leary and Irish champion sailor Robert O’Leary, to many victories.

His achievements include winning the prestigious All Ireland ‘Champion of Champions’ an unprecedented three times, as well as being part of the Yes! Racing team.

“This is an important day for Irish offshore sailing and for me personally to lead the first Ireland Ocean Racing project,” said Nin at yesterday’s launch. “The campaign over the next four years building up to the Vendée Globe offers sponsors and investors a perfect partnership platform including branding, hospitality and dramatic content.

“I have just completed the Rolex Fastnet Race with co-skipper Alex Thomson and now the real work starts in order to achieve the biggest challenge of all – the 2020 Vendée Globe.”

Published in Vendee Globe
MacDara Conroy

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MacDara Conroy

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MacDara Conroy is a contributor covering all things on the water, from boating and wildlife to science and business

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The 2024 Vendée Globe Race

A record-sized fleet of 44 skippers are aiming for the tenth edition of the Vendée Globe: the 24,296 nautical miles solo non-stop round-the-world race from Les Sables d’Olonne in France, on Sunday, November 10 2024 and will be expected back in mid-January 2025.

Vendée Globe Race FAQs

Six women (Alexia Barrier, Clarisse Cremer, Isabelle Joschke, Sam Davies, Miranda Merron, Pip Hare).

Nine nations (France, Germany, Japan, Finland, Spain, Switzerland, Australia, and Great Britain)

After much speculation following Galway man Enda O’Coineen’s 2016 race debut for Ireland, there were as many as four campaigns proposed at one point, but unfortunately, none have reached the start line.

The Vendée Globe is a sailing race round the world, solo, non-stop and without assistance. It takes place every four years and it is regarded as the Everest of sailing. The event followed in the wake of the Golden Globe which had initiated the first circumnavigation of this type via the three capes (Good Hope, Leeuwin and Horn) in 1968.

The record to beat is Armel Le Cléac’h 74 days 3h 35 minutes 46s set in 2017. Some pundits are saying the boats could beat a sub-60 day time.

The number of theoretical miles to cover is 24,296 miles (45,000 km).

The IMOCA 60 ("Open 60"), is a development class monohull sailing yacht run by the International Monohull Open Class Association (IMOCA). The class pinnacle events are single or two-person ocean races, such as the Route du Rhum and the Vendée Globe.

Zero past winners are competing but two podiums 2017: Alex Thomson second, Jérémie Beyou third. It is also the fifth participation for Jean Le Cam and Alex Thomson, fourth for Arnaud Boissières and Jérémie Beyou.

The youngest on this ninth edition of the race is Alan Roura, 27 years old.

The oldest on this ninth edition is Jean Le Cam, 61 years old.

Over half the fleet are debutantes, totalling 18 first-timers.

The start procedure begins 8 minutes before the gun fires with the warning signal. At 4 minutes before, for the preparatory signal, the skipper must be alone on board, follow the countdown and take the line at the start signal at 13:02hrs local time. If an IMOCA crosses the line too early, it incurs a penalty of 5 hours which they will have to complete on the course before the latitude 38 ° 40 N (just north of Lisbon latitude). For safety reasons, there is no opportunity to turn back and recross the line. A competitor who has not crossed the starting line 60 minutes after the signal will be considered as not starting. They will have to wait until a time indicated by the race committee to start again. No departure will be given after November 18, 2020, at 1:02 p.m when the line closes.

The first boat could be home in sixty days. Expect the leaders from January 7th 2021 but to beat the 2017 race record they need to finish by January 19 2021.

Today, building a brand new IMOCA generally costs between 4.2 and €4.7million, without the sails but second-hand boats that are in short supply can be got for around €1m.

©Afloat 2020

Vendee Globe 2024 Key Figures

  • 10th edition
  • Six women (vs six in 2020)
  • 16 international skippers (vs 12 in 2020)
  • 11 nationalities represented: France, United Kingdom, Switzerland, Germany, Italy, Belgium, Hungary, Japan, China, USA, New Zealand (vs 9 in 2020)
  • 18 rookies (vs 20 in 2020)
  • 30 causes supported
  • 14 new IMOCAs (vs 9 in 2020)
  • Two 'handisport' skippers

At A Glance - Vendee Globe 2024

The 10th edition will leave from Les Sables d’Olonne on November 10, 2024

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