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Joan Mulloy & Enda O'Coineen Put Solo Sailing on the Westport Stage

23rd December 2017
Joan Mulloy at the helm of her Figaro Solo – she found a high level of support in her home town of Westport on Wednesday Joan Mulloy at the helm of her Figaro Solo – she found a high level of support in her home town of Westport on Wednesday

Westport’s rising sailing star Joan Mulloy visited her home town of on Wednesday December 20th with legendary sailing veteran Enda O’Coineen, and delivered a fascinating talk at the invitation of Mayo Sailing Club reports Afloat.ie’s Clew Bay Correspondent. Seeking sponsorship, she told a packed room of well over a hundred interested guests and friends about her sailing adventures and plans, and the national and international publicity this would bring.

Melding her engineering background with her love of sailing, she has already achieved a string of successes in the highly competitive racing scene, and is one of Ireland’s most promising offshore sailors. As part of Team Ireland, she is now planning to be the first Irish woman to participate in the Solitaire du Figaro, the gruellingly competitive 1600 nautical mile four-stage race, in which she will be competing against some of the world’s best solo offshore sailors.

"Having worked at the top level of ocean racing for over 5 years, the time is right for me to take the helm” she said. “Being part of Team Ireland brings a level of professionalism, structure, and experience that will greatly enhance my campaign."

Her enthusiasm quickly spread to the listeners, and it wasn’t long before the first sponsor stepped in. Then Vendee Globe and Mini-Transat veteran Enda O’Coineen, who is now mentor to Joan, gave insights into the race he was forced to abandon in New Zealand and now plans to finish as a personal goal.

westport crowd3Enda O Coineen racing the Vendee Globe

As he explained, disaster sometimes leads to more fame than success, and he is using his experience and insights to help young sailors launch their careers and achieve success on the international stage. He urged the local community to support Joan at the grassroots level, which is the platform that helps secure the confidence of major sponsors. To learn more about Joan, or to become a sponsor, visit: www.JoanMulloyRacing.com

Enda also talked about his work with the Atlantic Youth Trust. The plans to replace the sail training ship Asgard II are progressing, if slowly, and support for this is needed.

Not surprisingly, the event drew attendees from all around the west coast. Some of the best-known adventurers in Connacht came to hear what’s new in the world of competitive offshore racing, and the mulled wine reception in advance of the talks gave everyone a chance to get up to speed with the latest developments.

Jaimie & Mary Young, of Killary Adventure Centre were in from Connemara. Jaimie is preparing his Frers 49 Killary Flyer for his next venture to the Arctic, and fundraising is always of interest. In the meantime, he is managing an expansion of the Adventure Centre, with the addition of The Killary Lodge due for completion in June 2018.

Alex Blackwell, Irish Cruising Club and Rear Commodore of the Ocean Cruising Club for Ireland, said he liked the gentle pace of a nice cruiser, but could appreciate the subtleties of wanting to go faster than the next boat, even when cruising in conversation with Matt Molloy. Matt, an avid sailor and musician, listened attentively but made it clear he had never ever had any ambitions to take up blue water racing. He too preferred to stop along the way, and smell the roses.

westport crowd3It might have been the countdown to Christmas, but in Westport people wanted to hear about top level Solo Racing

On the subject of roses, Jarlath Cunnane wanted to know if Enda shouldn’t be planning to prune roses instead of sailing across oceans now that he’s a grandfather. Enda said there was plenty of time for that, but right now he’s on a mission to finish what he started; after that, he wants to apply his knowledge to helping the up and coming young sailors, like Joan, who need to break into this competitive field. Then Jarlath asked detailed questions about the construction of Enda’s boat, which caused Enda to suggest that Jarlath may be thinking about building one himself.

Daria Blackwell, Rear Commodore of the Ocean Cruising Club, said she liked stopping along the way rather than passing anchorages by in a blur, but that following the passionate racers like Enda and Joan online was great fun.

Students from GMIT and NUI Galway came to fuel their imaginations and hopes, sensing that if Joan was able to muster the courage and the support, maybe they could too. The Galway crew that competed with success in the Fastnet Race were soaking up the details of the process of building experience and fundraising.

Joan’s childhood friends from Mayo Sailing Club’s excellent sail training programme came out in force to support her. Joan recognized those who had given her the first taste of offshore sailing, including John Lamb on whose boat she made her first exit from the protective safety of Clew Bay – and loved it. Ex-Commodores of MSC Rory Casey, Paul Murphy, and Damien Cashin arrived to lend their support, as did many other members.

westport crowd3Duncan Sclare, Commodore Mayo SC, is himself a solo sailor

Current Commodore Duncan Sclare, himself a single-hander, joined in the praise. He also invited everyone to attend the next talk by Mini-Transat sailor Tom Dolan on the 25th of January.

Mayo Sailing Club is a happening place, that’s for certain – and not just on the water. MSC welcomes new members at its clubhouse in Rosmoney. Members literally “get out there”, and so can you. No prior experience is required. No boat is needed. Visit here

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