Nicholas O'Leary's 'Ireland Ocean Racing team' say it is making 'great strides' towards securing the Cork solo sailor a position on the Vendee Globe 2020 startline despite the fact his boat, purchased last November, has appeared on the international boats for sale market. The move to sell the boat, according to promoters, is 'standard practise' and could yield a new boat for O'Leary for the round the world race.
The Royal Cork Yacht Club ace, a multiple Irish sailing champion, is aiming to complete the non-stop solo round the world race without assistance in a first for Irish sailing.
Typical Vendee Globe campaigns run into millions of Euro for the 80–day race.
O'Leary's 2006–built 'Great America IV' is a veteran of the last race. Since the boat arrived into Dun Laoghaire Marina last winter, O'Leary (32) has been based largely on Dublin Bay and Cork Harbour. Last April, the boat arrived back into Crosshaven with a sponsorship makeover, sporting prominent 'Ireland.com' decals, the logo of Tourism Ireland, the agency responsible for marketing Ireland overseas as a holiday destination.
"The boat being advertised is standard practice. Currently, we are looking at a range of options including new boats", O'Leary's General Manager, Georgina Foley told Afloat.ie
"It’s routine to keep these boats on the market to ensure that options remain open", according to Foley.
Only 100 people have sailed single-handed non-stop around the world and no Irish sailor has yet completed the Vendée Globe but if Royal Cork's Nicholas O'Leary has his way, he'll be the first, he told crowds at the launch of his project a year ago at the Royal Irish Yacht Club in Dun Laoghaire.
In the last race, Galway sailor Enda O'Coineen became the first ever Irish Vendee Globe entry, but was dismasted off New Zealand then, months later, gallantly completed the course to 'unofficially' finish the race in March. Read all about O'Coineen's saga here. O'Coineen is now assisting Irish sailors including O'Leary, who are keen to follow in his wake.
In a busy year for O'Leary, he was in command of a superyacht in the Caribbean in March 2017, had a win in the Round the Island Race last July and success last October in the Middle Sea Race. This season, on the domestic circuit, he helped Dave Cullen to Wave Regatta success in Howth.
The O'Leary team says it is currently in discussions with some leading Irish, French, German and US companies for sponsorship and the fate of the current boat depends on 'where we get to with our partner discussions which are advancing well', Foley said.
Ireland Ocean Racing says it has 'designed its partner engagement model to span across the areas of environmental stewardship, innovative technology, employee performance & development and brand promotion'.
"O'Leary is taking on the single hardest sporting challenge on the planet. This can sometimes get lost in the frenzy to secure partnerships"
Foley said: “We are delighted to see the rising interest amongst both corporates and the general public for this project over the last 12 months. Nicholas is taking on the single hardest sporting challenge on the planet. This can sometimes get lost in the frenzy to secure partnerships".
"Offshore sailing is a relatively unchartered territory for many companies here in Ireland and therefore signing partnerships is a lengthy process. Having said that, Ireland Ocean Racing are encouraged with the way Nicholas O’Leary’s campaign is shaping up and are looking forward to the starting line in Les Sables d’Olonne in November 2020" Foley added.
O'Leary is not the only Irish Vendee Globe bid for 2020, at least three other Irish offshore sailors have their names in the hat too: Mayo solo sailor Joan Mulloy, Sailor of the Year Conor Fogerty of Howth and Clipper skipper Sean McCarter.
This is still very much a developing sport and offers plenty of opportunity for companies from all sectors to get involved, according to promoters.