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Nicholas O'Leary's Vendee Globe 2020 Bid Makes 'Great Strides' as Boat Goes Up for Sale

20th June 2018
Nicholas 'Nin' O'Leary onboard his IMOCA 60 that is advertised for sale Nicholas 'Nin' O'Leary onboard his IMOCA 60 that is advertised for sale

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.

nicholas oleary VendeeNicholas O'Leary at the Nav station on board his IMOCA 60 yacht

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 '' decals, the logo of Tourism Ireland, the agency responsible for marketing Ireland overseas as a holiday destination.

Tourismireland IOR lowres 09New livery – The Tourism Ireland branded O'Leary IMOCA 60 off Cork Harbour in March

Great American for saleThe advert (above) for Nin O'Leary's boat is posted on the IMOCA 60 website

"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

"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.

Checkmate 4418Nicholas 'Nin' O'Leary (second from right) played a key role in Dave Cullen's Wave Regatta success in Howth this month. Photo:

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.

Published in Vendee Globe Team

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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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