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Yesterday evening Enda O'Coineen reached the first major milestone in the Vendee Globe by crossing the equator. This is the first of many milestones in the solo non-stop round the world sailing race considered the Everest of the Seas. The boat is in fantastic shape and as you'll see from the video Enda is in 'exceptional' form as he settles into this 100 day solo challenge.

“I'm doing very well – I've got a very stable weather pattern. I'm looking forward to crossing the Equator and getting back in the fleet. I went very far east when I should have followed the old rule of staying west. I thought I could get back but it didn't work.

“But I'm on great form, my daughter delivered my granddaughter, my first granddaughter, yesterday, so that's very good news. I'm not ready to be a parent yet let alone a grandparent so I shudder at the thought! Maybe this will make me a better parent when I get back. I've got very tolerant and understanding children. It was a difficult pregnancy for Roisin, she was long overdue and it was quite a reasonable concern.

“I think the emotion is more amplified. You think an awful lot more and it's more intense because of the isolation. You think through life and all the details 24/7, and that's combined with the physical and mental activities. It is more moving – on land you've lots of other things going on so the brain doesn't have the same ability to focus. The emotional part is much deeper.

“Whether it's driving me harder or not I don't know - in fact, I'm being more careful to tell you the truth. Every time you get up and walk on deck you're putting yourself at risk. These boats are machines and you've got to keep them turning over. Fortunately the boat is in good shape and so am I. My shoulder is still a bit sore, it's taken me two weeks to recover, but I'm in better shape now than when I started. I'm really looking forward to getting into the Southern Ocean, just for a day! The idea of being there for a month.... the cold will get into you. It's easy to say that sitting here on the Equator in warm conditions.

“15 days in and like everyone else you wonder how I ever talked myself into this one, but it's a long road ahead and there are some very high moments and some very low moments. At the moment it's good, it's all very solid, just trotting along at about 10 knots at an angle of about 80 degrees. The wind is freeing slightly so that's great.

“We'll have a little bottle of champagne and a big fat cigar [at the Equator], and I've made special arrangements to have an appointment arranged with King Neptune himself. He's going to come and visit and I'm going to ask him to bless my new granddaughter. We'll have a chat and share some secrets, and I'm sure King Neptune will look after us all. I think that's very important, so I'm looking forward to that appointment. It's the equivalent to the appointment at the Pearly Gates at Heaven – or Hell! - but I think it's going to be Heaven this time. I'll probably cross the Equator later on this afternoon or tonight. It might be more like tonight. We're making 10 knots so it will be some time later today.

“I wouldn't say my spirits are high but I'm in good solid form. You have to manage yourself emotionally through the ups and downs but with this extreme sailing in lovely warm tradewinds I'm happy on my boat. I can't complain!”

Published in Vendee Globe

Vendee Globe Day Four: Ireland's Enda O'Coineen lies 26th in the 29–boat Vendde fleet as the leaders are approaching Madeira, which the leaders are passing this morning, the middle ground, direct course continued to work for the pacemaker. But the Banque Populaire solo skipper has seen his lead shrink slightly as he tries to hold his distance ahead of a chasing pack which are pushing each other hard in the light to moderate breezes. For Le Cleac'h it is key to get south of Madeira with a margin intact, knowing that first into the NE Trade winds will accelerate away. The Azores high pressure, and the fickle, unsettled winds it produces has proven hard to escape. The leading group of eight are within 30 miles of each other, the lateral spread at 120 miles between Le Cleac'h and British skipper Alex Thomson (Hugo Boss) in eighth.

The pace to Madeira remains slightly quicker than that of the 2012-13 race when Francois Gabart was at approximately the same point in some four days, compared to the three days of Le Cleac'h who was Gabart's principal rival all the way round the globe in that race. Once into the trade winds the average speeds should be higher - 450 mile days commonplace for the foilers - and so the Equator should certainly take less than ten days. If the weather models prove true that should mean one new record on this race from the outset.

In the lighter airs - 8-12kts - it seems local choices, finding lanes of extra breeze has been more important than boat speed. Gains and losses have been irrespective of whether the IMOCA has hydrofoil daggerboards or not. Sebastien Josse's investment to the west has paid slightly and his Edmond de Rothschild was up to second place. Paul Meilhat on SMA improved overnight from seventh to second, then third. A gybe to the east dropped Jean-Pierre Dick to fourth. Thomson has held eighth through the day but has been as quick as the leaders, gained a little westing back and with it six miles on Le Cleac'h.

Published in Vendee Globe

#VendéeGlobe - Enda O’Coineen’s homegrown entry is not the only Irish connection in the latest Vendée Globe, as the Irish Examiner reports.

In fact, three other Irishmen have significant mangerial involvement in the round-the-world yachting challenge, which began on Sunday 6 November as the fleet set off from Les Sables.

Apart from Cork’s Stewart Hosford, chief executive of the Alex Thomson Racing/Hugo Boss team, there’s also Marcus Hutchinson from Kinsale, who is team director for French contingent SMA.

Meanwhile, Dubliner (by way of Japan) Tony O’Connor is general manager of the Japanese team Spirit of Yukoh, sailing the reconditioned Hugo Boss act that finished third in the last Vendée Globe in 2013.

The Paul Meilhat-skippered SMA is currently the best of these boats in third position, with Hugo Boss in seventh, Spirit of Yukoh 19th and O’Coineen’s Kilcullen Voyager in 26th following a premature start on Sunday.

Published in Vendee Globe

Enda O'Coineen was a premature starter in today's dramatic Vendee Globe Race start. The Irishman showed how eager he was to get underway on the 26,000 nautical mile voyage when he was one of three in the 29–boat fleet that were called back after crossing the line a few seconds early off Les Sables d'Olonne. The three boats had to go back and cross the line again.

O'Coineen is seeking to boldly go where no Irishman has gone before on the first day of an anticipated 100–day journey around the world.

With more than 300,000 spectators lined up along the harbour entrance channel in Les Sables d'Olonne and more than a thousand boats out on the water around the start area, the 29 competitors in the 2016-2017 Vendée Globe set sail at 1202hrs UTC in exceptional weather conditions: sunshine, a 14-knot NNE'ly with slight to choppy seas. HRH Prince Albert II of Monaco signalled the start after greeting all the sailors as they cast off.

From the gun, Kito de Pavant (Bastide Otio), Paul Meilhat (SMA), Tanguy de Lamotte (Initiatives Cœur) and Vincent Riou (PRB) were out in front with the rest grouped together behind them. Bertrand de Broc (MACSF) and Enda O'Coineen (Kilcullen Voyager – Team Ireland) were called back after crossing the line a few seconds early. They had to go back and cross the line again.

Vendee Globe 2016 startThe eighth Vendée Globe: off to a good start. Photo: Vincent Curutchet / DPPI / Vendée Globe

The 8th Vendée Globe is underway. The race around the world has begun.

Published in Vendee Globe

This Sunday, Irish sailor Enda O'Coineen, will begin his bid to become the first Irish sailor ever to enter and complete one of the toughest sporting challenges on the planet, The Vendée Globe.

A gruelling single-handed, non-stop, unassisted race around the world – often termed ‘the Everest of Sailing’ – the Vendée Globe sees sailors pushed to their very limits in the quest for victory. This year, 29 skippers will depart from the start line on Sunday, November 6 in Les Sables d'Olonne, France. 14 of them are rookies including O'Coineen. 

One of the Galway man's main aims is to build a 'living legacy' for the future of Irish offshore challenges and to see other sailors continue world girdling campaigns.

'While my boat is 10 years old I don't expect to be out front however she is strong and we are well prepared - the first Irishman the youngest Irishman (and oldest) and hopefully not the last....Most importantly we have we have three reserve skippers: Andrew Barker, Andy Mcarthur and David Kenefick who all want to be involved in future editions of this race'.

Read more of this interview in today's Irish Times here

On Sunday, the start gun will send 29 intrepid solo skippers off on the eighth edition of the Vendée Globe. In a modern age where the pursuit of instant gratification and always-on social interconnection prevails in even the most remote corners of the world, the challenge of racing non stop around the globe without outside help – one person, one boat non stop 24,020 nautical miles Les Sables d'Olonne to Les Sables d'Olonne via the three great capes for somewhere between 75 and 120 days, retains an enduring, magical appeal.

The purity and simplicity of the race remains unchanged since the first edition in 1989 when 13 pioneering soloists started. But it is testament to its incredible magnetism that the race which starts Sunday will be the most international yet as for the first time the challenge is taken up by soloists from the Australasian and Asian continents. Twenty French skippers and nine from Great Britain, Hungary, Ireland, Japan, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Spain, Switzerland and the USA will answer the start cannon Sunday. Ireland, New Zealand and Japan are represented for the first time. The performance and age spectrum of the skippers and their respective IMOCA 60 foot racing yachts has never been greater.

Set on January 27th 2013 by the youngest skipper ever to win the race, François Gabart at the age of 29, the benchmark of 78 days 2hrs 16m 40 secs is thought likely to fall. Since the last race four years ago there has been a technological leap as innovative hydrofoiling daggerboards have been adopted on the IMOCAs of seven skippers. These new foils generate substantial lift on the hull, literally allowing the 7,5 tonne boats to fly almost clear of the waves to sustain speeds averaging 2-4kts faster than their conventional modern generation counterparts. When they were first used in a full ocean racing environment just over one year ago there was a high proportion of mechanical failures associated with these foils. Even after months of further development and reinforcement of the hull structures there are still question marks over their potential reliability and seeming susceptibility to hitting objects.

Briton Alex Thomson on his latest generation Hugo Boss took third place in the last edition of the Vendée Globe race. After numerous failures in different high profile ocean races Thomson's choice of a solid, slightly older proven design - which he pushed hard and sailed smartly to finish third – this time sees him back to pushing the technology frontiers. His new boat bristles with the latest design interpretations and technology. He is widely considered a major threat to the top, all-French hierarchy. Last night Thomson and his team sailed one final, overnight testing mission, checking different foil and sail set ups. During the summer his Hugo Boss proved to have race winning potential when he lead the New York – Vendée warm up Transatlantic Race before electrical problems compromised his winning challenge. Since then, despite having to resort to his set of first generation foils after the second generation set failed, Thomson asserts that Hugo Boss is even faster.

Even among seasoned race watchers the perennial question ‘Who will win the Vendée Globe?' has many different answers. Including Thomson there are six highly experienced, top skippers equipped with foils. Armel Le Cléac'h has finished second in the last two Vendée Globes, only three hours behind winner Gabart in 2013, the conclusion of a mind bending match-race all the way around the world when the two near identical IMOCAs raced all the way as if joined by bungee elastic. Sébastien Josse lead the epic 2008-9 race at different stages before he was forced to abandon with rudder damage. Edmond de Rothschild is the highly optimised, immaculately prepared new IMOCA aboard which he won last winter's solo Transat Saint Barth's-Lorient race before finishing second in this year's New York- Vendée race. His experience racing the Edmond de Rothschild Multi 70 trimaran crewed and short handed has fine tuned his ability to race on the edge for long periods. Jean Pierre Dick on StMichel-Virbac is a multiple winner of big ocean races, such as the Transat Jacques Vabre and two Barcelona World Races around the world. He missed third in the last race when his keel failed 1500 miles from the finish, dropping to fourth. Jéremie Beyou has yet to finish the Vendée Globe despite starting twice. He is the only skipper to retro-fit foils, to his Maitre-Coq, the 2010 launched boat which finished second in 2013 as Banque Populaire.

The only skipper to have won the race before who will be on the start line this time, 2004-5 winner Vincent Riou on PRB, has stayed with a conventional, non foil set up. But his March 2010 launched boat is considered the most optimised, furthest refined IMOCA which possesses a great all round potential. While the foiling IMOCAs are at their best fast reaching in winds over 15kts, they are still felt to have a disadvantage in increased drag in lighter airs and less efficiency upwind. Riou is a firm believer that his choice will give him an at least even chance over the long game. So too Yann Eliès has a well optimised IMOCA with more conventional boards. A three times winner of La Solitaire du Figaro, he returns to the Vendée Globe eight years after being rescued 800 miles south west of Australia. Eliès lay stricken and unable to move suffering from multiple leg fractures inside his yacht for two days before being taken to safety.

An unprecedented five sailors will be racing the Vendée Globe for their fourth time. Riou, Thomson, Dick and veterans Jean Le Cam and Bertrand de Broc. Two of the 14 first timers will start with realistic aspirations of emulating Gabart's feat, winning the Vendée Globe at their first attempt, never having raced solo in the Southern Oceans. Morgan Lagravière, 29, is an Olympic skiff sailor turned Figaro sailor turned Vendée Globe racer. He was selected by Safran as the best of the new, younger generation talent to fly their colours and he has a foiling, March 2015 launched design. His programme has been managed latterly by Roland Jourdain's organisation. Similarly Paul Meilhat's SMA is the leading IMOCA programme for double Vendée Globe winner Michel Desjoyeaux's Mer Agitée stable. Meilhat, 34, is also an ex 49er sailor who moved through the one design Figaro circuit, winning the 2014 Transat AG2R.

There are set to be many races within the race as different generations of boats and skippers compete against each other. A posse of skippers with 2006-7 designs are expected to have equally intense, hard fought battles. Tanguy De Lamotte on Initiatives Couer which publicises a charity which provides life saving heart surgery for children, Louis Burton on Bureau Vallée, Arnaud Boissieres on La Mie Caline, Jean Le Cam on Finistere Mer Vent and Thomas Ruyant on Le Souffle Du Nord, are all expected to form the middle and upper middle order of the fleet.

The race has drawn an engaging cross section of adventurous skippers of all ages who set off with the only common theme being their shared dream of finishing the race, completing the circle. Twenty four year old Swiss soloist Alan Roura has a low budget campaign which bottomed out financially when he did not have enough money to put fuel in his team van. Kiwi-American Conrad Colman starts his third round the world race having only just secured a last minute sponsor for his 100% Natural Energy. He is looking to be the first skipper to finish the race using only naturally generated electrical energy. Sébastien Destremau will realise an almost fleeting ambition which only took him over when he was reporting for TV at the start of the last race. Irish businessman, adventurer and sailor Enda O'Coineen on Kilcullen Voyager Team Ireland is looking to fulfil a lifetime ambition but also to spearhead a lasting legacy for Ireland which also encompasses building a sail training vessel and, in the future, a sail training academy. Similarly Holland's Pieter Heerema is a successful businessman looking to fulfil a sailing ambition, racing a latest generation foiler. Hungary's Nandor Fa, 64, starts his third Vendée Globe twenty years after his first one, racing a boat he mostly designed and built himself. American Rich Wilson is driven to compete in his second Vendée Globe, the oldest skipper in the fleet, by the burning desire to share the educational values of the race. His Sites Alive program run from on board Great American 4 will reach over 1 million youngsters, including 3000 schools in China, an educational program approved by the French Education Department, and 50,000 students in Taiwan.

Fair weather expected for the start
The weather is now becoming clear and more precise for Sunday: 15 to 20 knot northerlies, ideal conditions to get the world's most extreme race underway. “A north to NW'ly air stream blowing at between 15 and 25 knots out at sea, probably lighter on the coast with squally showers possible around Les Sables d'Olonne. The NW'ly swell should remain below 1m,”announced the Great Circle team, the official weather partner for the 8th Vendée Globe. Decent conditions are expected for the 29 IMOCAs as they cross the Bay of Biscay in a northerly flow offering good speeds on seas that remain slight, before they reach Cape Finisterre and then the coast of Portugal in stronger winds (gusting to 35 knots).

In other words, we can look forward to a fast start for the non-stop solo round the world race allowing them in theory to sail downwind all the way to the Equator. “Conditions should enable us to get a good time for this first portion of the race with everyone going down quickly to the Equator. We could see a day less to get there than it took four years ago. We're not about to be shaken up like in 2012. This weather should favour the foilers. That much is clear,” explained Vincent Riou (PRB).

A relief for the sailors and their families
“We're not looking at a deep low and strong headwinds . I can remember how complicated the start was eight years ago. This time we're not getting thrown in at the deep end and so that removes some of the stress,” admitted Armel Le Cléac'h (Banque Populaire VIII), who is already drawing up his route for the first part of the course. A huge relief too for the families. Arnaud Boissières, (La Mie Câline) told us this morning, “The weather is looking decent for the start I'm pleased in particular for my family and friends and sponsors, as that makes it easier to bear, even if there is bound to be some stress. That means that the fleet should remain intact for longer, which is good.”

 

Published in Vendee Globe

'I don't care about the race or proving that I am better than my neighbour' declares Ireland's first ever entrant into the world's toughest yacht race, the Vendee Globe.

The declaration is made by Enda O'Coineen (60) who will take on the solo non stop race round the world next month. The Galway Bay debutante continues his billboard statement with the following intent: 'sure I want to go quick but for me to finish would mean fulfilling a lifelong ambition to complete a non–stop lap of our planet. The fact that I would be thev first Irish person to do it would make it all the more special. Representing Ireland and promoting ocean and adventure in Ireland is an honour'.

The Vendée Globe Village officially opened in Les Sables d'Olonne on Saturday and O'Coineen's Irish tricolour was flying proudly among the fleet of 28 IMOCA 60 entries. 

The public could hardly wait for the official opening of the Vendée Globe Village on Saturday morning. The ceremony marked the start of three weeks of festivities in Les Sables-d'Olonne. At 10 a.m. Yves Auvinet, President of the SAEM Vendée, Bruno Retailleau, President of the Pays de La Loire Region, Didier Gallot, Mayor of Les Sables d'Olonne and Pascal Cadorel, head of communications for Sodebo, led a procession of guests and visitors through the Village, that has been set up for this eighth Vendée Globe and which stretches out over a total surface area of more than 2500 m2 in Port Olona. The official visit ended with a meeting with all of the competitors present aboard their boats.

During the presentation, the dignitaries and elected councillors passed through the exhibition aisle on quai Lagravière, before entering the Vendée big top, where an impressive exhibition of technologies and interactive applications is on display. This exhibition tells you all you need to know about the boats, the skippers and their preparation. In particular, you can see the boat sailed by Dee Caffari in the 2008 Vendée Globe, the former Aviva, a gallery of portraits of the skippers and a 240° projection area. Their stroll also allowed them to discover the tourist office, the restaurant areas, the partners' area and for the first time in this year's event, the Mixed Zone, where it is possible to visit Yves Parlier's old IMOCA and to see an area dedicated to those, who have left their mark on the Vendée Globe. The group then headed for the Vendée Globe pontoon, in order to meet the sailors. During his speech, President Yves Auvinet reminded everyone how important the Vendée Globe is in the identity of this French department and for local people. “The race belongs to the people of Vendée and all the technical means possible have been put in place to publicise the Vendée Globe around the world.”

The skippers are presented to the first visitors
In spite of the rain, the delegation was able to speak to each of the skippers present aboard their boats, with the Race Director, Jacques Caraës making the introductions. This was an opportunity for the sailors to give their first impressions, before getting together for the traditional family photo. This morning's visit concluded with a few more speeches, including one from Bruno Retailleau, for whom “the spirit and values of the Vendée Globe are an example to the sporting world. Where there's a will, there's a way.” Didier Gallot was pleased about “the huge fame that the Vendée Globe has brought to the town of Les Sables-d'Olonne.” Pascal Cadorel reminded everyone that “Sodebo has been the patron of the Vendée Globe since 2004. It's a popular event that we experience together within the company and outside and we share it with our public.” In conclusion, Yves Auvinet wanted to reassure everyone about the safety measures taken to protect visitors. “We have been working on this for months with the government services and the Vendée authorities. Every measure has been taken to allow the public to make the most of this event.”

Quotes :

Alex Thomson - GB (HUGO BOSS):
“For me, 30% of the competitors in this eighth Vendée Globe have what it takes to make it to the podium.”

Rich Wilson - USA (Great American IV):
“We need to make the most of the support from the public here in Les Sables d'Olonne. I can remember the first time I took part back in 2008. Everyone was so friendly and welcoming towards me and my team.”

Didac Costa - SPA (One Planet One Ocean):
“After being struck by lightning during the delivery trip, these final three weeks have become a huge challenge to make sure I'm ready on time.”

Conrad Colman - NZ (100% Natural Energy):
“My boat knows her way around. I'm sure she'll bring me back to Les Sables d'Olonne. There may be more older generation boats than new ones crossing the finish…”

Kojiro Shiraishi - JPN (Spirit of Yukoh):
“I really want to make sailing more popular in Japan and I don't want to be the last Japanese sailor to compete in the Vendée Globe.”

Paul Meilhat - FRA (SMA):
“The incidents we experienced last winter allowed me to become more mature and today, I'm really pleased to be here.”

Alan Roura - SUI (La Fabrique):
“I didn't have much time to prepare for the Vendée Globe, so I'm still in the preparation phase. I haven't yet grasped that I'm in Les Sables and about to set off around the world alone.”

Bertrand de Broc - FRA (MACSF):
“The boat is ready, but it is the sailor that is the most important thing, and he too is beginning to feel ready too.”

Published in Vendee Globe

As Afloat.ie reported previously, Irish Vendee Globe entrant Enda O’Coineen departs Ireland for France tomorrow aboard the Kilcullen Voyager before the epic race commences next month. During a ‘bon voyage’ event at Dublin’s CHQ today, the Lord Mayor and Honorary Admiral of Dublin Port, Brendan Carr wished O'Coineen the very best of luck on his world girdling journey.

O'Coineen will skipper Team Ireland’s first ever entry into the Vendée Globe Challenge, the hardest race in the world, on November 6th. Starting and finishing in Les Sables d’Olonne on France’s Atlantic seaboard, 29 skippers, including Galway native O’Coineen, will attempt to sail around the world non-stop single-handedly from east to west via the three major capes - Good Hope, Leeuwin and the Horn - on its 29,000-nautical-mile route.

This race (known as the Everest of the Seas) is considered to be one of the toughest sporting and human challenges that there is. For O’Coineen, this is the pinnacle of a lifetime of ocean experience in maritime sport and voluntary service which has included sailing solo across the Atlantic twice in a 15ft inflatable dinghy; five Fastnet Races; six Round Ireland Races and sailing part of The Whitbread Round the World Race.

The Kilcullen Voyager is a 60–foot monohull which is among the fastest modern racing monohulls, designed to be as light as possible whilst being solid enough to withstand the worst conditions which can occur whilst racing on the open seas.

Enda O'Coineen, Team Ireland skipper: "Sailing out of Dublin city centre on Monday evening with the well wishes of the Lord Mayor and Honorary Admiral of Dublin Port is a true honour. The departure represents the start of a 25,000 mile journey that will bring me deep into the Southern Ocean and ultimately past Cape Horn and back to France in sailing’s toughest race, the Vendée Globe. If all goes to plan I will be back in Dublin in March having lapped with planet alone, without stopping."

Published in Vendee Globe
Tagged under

With the Vendee Globe Round the World race start less than a month away, Ireland's first ever entry in the race departs Dublin on Monday for the French Race start at Les Sables d’Olonne.

Lord Mayor of Dublin Brendan Carr and Dublin City Council will host a ‘Bon Voyage’ event for the Kilcullen Voyager solo skipper Enda O’Coineen on Monday in Dublin’s Docklands.

At age 60, O’Coineen takes on the world's hardest non–stop race for the first time in November. He will sail around the world non-stop from east to west via the three major capes of Good Hope, Leeuwin and the Horn - on its 29,000-nautical-mile route.  

In a week from now on Friday 14th October, the 29 competitors taking part in the eighth Vendée Globe will have to be moored up at the pontoon in Port Olona.

Already some competitors have arrived. Kito de Pavant got there early, along with Arnaud Boissières, Nandor Fa and Rich Wilson. Others are already on their way, with most of them planning to carry out their delivery trip next week.

The official Vendée Globe Village will be opening its doors in Les Sables d’Olonne on the following day, Saturday 15th October. Four years ago, the Vendée Globe attracted 1.8 million visitors.

Among them, there were many schoolchildren. Local schools will be able to discover the event again this year thanks to a teaching pack distributed in Vendée. 

O'Coineen continues the school children theme in his departure on Monday with schools St. Laurence O'Toole Junior Boys School, North Wall, St. Mary's Primary School, Dorset Street and St. Louis Senior Primary School, Rathmines, attending the send–off from 11.15am on Custom House Quay next to the Jeanie Johnston Tall Ship where the Kilcullen Voyager will be moored and O’Coineen will pose for pre-departure photographs.

The race is now less than a month away, with the starting gun due to be fired at 1202hrs UTC on Sunday 6th November.

 

Published in Vendee Globe

Galway Bay sailor Enda O'Coineen (60) took his place among 29 skippers from 10 countries gathered in the heart of Paris this week for the official Vendee Globe 2016 press conference. Media from around the world came to hear how preparations are coming along ahead of this epic, solo, non stop, unassisted sailing race around the world.

Enda O Coineen yacht Dun Laoghaire IMOCA 60Enda O'Coineen's IMOCA 60 yacht at Dun Laoghaire prior to departure for France. Photo: Afloat.ie

Speaking about the event, the Irish offshore skipper, who has been making preparations for the race at Dun Laoghaire Harbour marina this month said: "It's an honour to even be in a room with some of these guys, to think I'll be on the starting line on 6 November beside ocean racing superstars such as Alex Thomson is incredible. As I've always said, to finish is to win for me."

O'|Coineen earned the right to compete in the race by virtue of his performance in a transatlantic qualifying race last December, as Afloat.ie reported here at the time.

In any typical edition of the global race, up to 50% of the fleet retire with one difficulty or another which is why the race is dubbed the 'everest of sailing'.

This year's race features the next generation of boats that are equipped with foils to deliver faster times if they can survive the harsh conditions. In a recent race from New York, the attrition rate across the Atlantic to France was high. O'Coineen has an older generation craft but it is well tested and capable of completing the course.

O'Coineen is a former organiser of Irish round the world race entries; NCB Ireland, Green Dragon and Team Sanya as well as the two Volvo Ocean Race stop overs in Galway.

Enda will feature on RTE's Late Late Show tonight to discuss his motivations for taking part in the race and his own journey to the starting line. Tune in to RTE One at 21:30

Enda O Coineen yacht cockpitThe cockpit of Enda O'Coineen's IMOCA 60 with images of the last Galway Volvo Ocean Race stopover adorning the bulkheads and below a selected James Joyce quotation for the port–side of his IMOCA 60  Photo: Afloat.ie

Enda O Coineen yacht

vendee globe skippersEnda (kneeling centre front row) with the other Vendee Globe skippers

Published in Vendee Globe

Strangford Lough solo sailor Andrew ‘Hammy’ Baker has been announced as the newest team member of Enda O'Coineen's campaign to be the first Irish person to compete in the Vendee Globe race, the non stop, unassisted, race around the world, the Everest of sailing challenges.

Hammy is part of the team that will prepare the boat, optimise performance, and work with Skipper O’Coineen ahead of the Vendee Globe Race start in November.

Hammy aspires to be the first Northern Irish sailor to compete in the Vendee Globe. The race takes place every four years and involves a grueling lap of the planet, alone, through the Southern Ocean. Speaking about the announcement Hammy said:

“To be involved in an all Ireland Team is definitely a huge step towards that end goal… This week he sailed into Belfast where he spent his life sailing on O'Coineen's IMOCA 60.

He previously competed in a solo sailing campaign in a 33-foot yacht where many of the top ocean racers learn the ropes.

The boat will be in Dublin on a round Ireland promotional voyage this weekend.

Published in Vendee Globe
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