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Displaying items by tag: Gregor McGuckin

Tomorrow, Wednesday, 15 August, marks Gregor McGuckin’s 32nd birthday. The solo sailor is now 44 days into what could be a 270 day non-stop voyage around the globe onboard his 36ft yacht Hanley Energy Endurance.

McGuckin is currently making his way east in the South Atlantic, headed for the Cape of Good Hope, the first of the three great capes he will round as part of the Golden Globe Race. The race marks 50 years since the first successful solo non-stop circumnavigation by Sir Robin Knox-Johnston. Sir Robin was 28 years old when he set sail in 1969 and took 312 days to complete the race.

The Golden Globe Race competitors are largely limited to the technology that was available when Sir Robin set sail, meaning no GPS, no watermakers, no weather routing and no modern forms of communication. McGuckin’s yacht, Hanley Energy Endurance, is older than he is, she was launched in 1984, two years before McGuckin was born.

Speaking about Gregor’s birthday, his Campaign Manager, Neil O’Hagan, said:

“Gregor is a very social guy so tomorrow will be hard for him. If he’s lucky, he might get speaking to a passing ship or some of his competitors, but there will be no party, no calls to his family and friends and no break from tending to his yacht Hanley Energy Endurance. The shore crew snook on some birthday cards and presents so hopefully he finds them.”

If successful with his voyage, McGuckin will be the first Irish person to sail alone non-stop around the planet. First, he must cross the Indian Ocean, then the Pacific, and then complete the final leg back up the Atlantic and into France.

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In Ireland throughout July, interest in sailing has been almost completely absorbed by a multiplicity of events in which major happenings such as the Volvo Round Ireland race, Cork Week and the Beaufort Cup have been only the peaks of a continuous tapestry of fascinating sport writes W M Nixon.

Yet during all this time, the competitors in the Golden Globe race have been doggedly making their way southwards – sometimes very slowly as they negotiate the Doldrums and other calm areas - towards their eventual appointment with destiny in the Southern Ocean, and ultimately with Cape Horn.

It’s a measure of the scale of what they’ve undertaken that, after a month, some of the competitors have yet to sail just 10% of the course. But others have been going at it in a much more purposeful way, and as anticipated before the start, the vintage British-built Holman & Pye-designed boats of the Rustler 36 sloop type have proven fastest, holding the five top place with Philip Peche (France) shown as leading with “only” 21,680 miles to sail back to Les Sables d’Olonne, while senior skipper Jean luc van den Heede, also France, is second and The Netherland’s Mark Slats is third.

However, this is with the fleet well spread across the Equatorial Atlantic between Africa and South America, and Ireland’s Conor McGuckian in his Biscay 36 ketch-rigged Hanley Energy Endurance on the western side of the fleet has been having his moments.

He leads all the ketches, he has been up to sixth place on the water when the going was good, and back off Portugal he recorded one of the best day’s runs of the entire fleet. At the moment he’s logging 6.9 knots and due to cross the Equator today (Monday), but with 22,064 miles still to sail.

Race tracker here

Published in Solo Sailing

Eight days into the Golden Globe Race non-stop solo round the world from Les Sables-d'Olonne, and Ireland’s Gregor McGuckin had today’s best 24-hour run of the 17 boats still racing as they close in on the Canary Islands writes W M Nixon. McGuckin’s vintage Biscay 36 Hanley Energy Endurance may be lying tenth on the water, but with the power of the fair winds of the Portuguese Trades, McGuckin has clocked a commendable 156-miles in the past 24 hours, ten miles more than fleet leaders Philippe Peche and Mark Slats, and still five miles better than pre-race favourite Jean-Luc Van Den Heede.

The scale of this epic challenge is beginning to become apparent. They’re into Day 9 – more than it takes to finish the Round Ireland Race - yet Hanley Energy Endurance still has 24,141 miles to sail…….

Race Tracker here

Published in Solo Sailing

It has been slow going for first days of Golden Globe Race for Ireland's solo sailor, Dubliner Gregor McGuckin who is in ninth place in the 17–boat race with 25,000 miles to sail. The first four days of light, variable winds appear to have played into the hands of race leader Mark Slats, the Dutch transatlantic rowing record-holder and his secret weapon – a pair of giant sculling oars.

Slats overtook the initial fleet leader Philippe Peche during their first night at sea after leaving Les Sables d’Olonne last Sunday and has been a consistent front-runner since. At 06:00 UTC today the Dutchman held a 3 mile lead on second-placed Peche as the leaders rounded Cape Finisterre and began their run south towards the Canaries and their first ‘gate’ off Lanzarote.

The fleet is now spread out over a 100-mile distance with Australian Mark Sinclair currently trapped in very light airs close into the North Spanish coast and wishing perhaps that he too had an oar.

The first four skippers, Slats, Peche, Estonian Uku Randmaa and French veteran Jean-Luc Van Den Heede have all shared the lead during this first week at sea and significantly perhaps, are all sailing Rustler 36 yachts. 12 miles is all that divides them today.

The forecast does not bode well for the tail-enders with calms continuing in the Finisterre region over the weekend while the leaders can expect favourable 10 increasing to 20knot northerly winds as they run down the Portuguese coast.

GGR Leaderboard: 06:00 UTC 05.08.18

1. Mark Slats (NED) Rustler 36 Ohpen Maverick, 24,623 n.miles to finish
2. Philippe Peche (FRA) Rustler 36 PRB, +3
3. Uku Randmaa (EST) Rustler 36 One and All, +10 
4. Jean-Luc Van Den Heede (FRA) Rustler 36 Matmut, +12
5. Are Wiig (NOR) OE 32 Olleanna, +24
6. Tapio Lehtinen (FIN) Gaia 36 Asteria, +34
7. Igor Zaretskiy (RUS) Endurance 35 Esmeralda, +42
8. Loïc Lepage (FRA) Nicholson 32 Laaland, +47
9. Gregor McGuckin (IRE) Biscay 36 Hanley Energy Endurance, +48
10. Antoine Cousot (FRA) Biscay 36 Metier Interim, +52
11. Susie Goodall (GBR) Rustler 36 DHL Starlight, +55
12. Abhilash Tomy (IND) Suhaili replica Thuriya, +56
13. Nabil Amra (PAL) Biscay 36 Liberty II, +60
14. Ertan Beskardes (GBR) Rustler 36 Lazy Otter, +63
15. Istvan Kopar (USA) Tradewind 35 Puffin, +81
16. Kevin Farebrother (AUS) Tradewind 35 Sagarmatha, +84
17. Mark Sinclair (Aus) Lello 34 Coconut, +100

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Sunday 1 July, at 12:00 local time in Les Sables d’Olonne France, Irishman Gregor McGuckin crossed the starting line of the Golden Globe Race onboard his very ordinary looking 33-year-old yacht, Hanley Energy Endurance. All going to plan, Gregor will not step foot on dry land again for eight to nine months.

Gregor departsGregor is wished bon voyage before his eight month solo non stop voyage round the world

The Golden Globe Race is being held to mark the 50 years that have passed since Sir Robin Knox-Johnston achieved what was once thought to be impossible. Modern round the world races embrace technology and skippers can now conduct live Skype calls, talk to anyone in the world 24/7 through satellite phones and receive detailed weather routing to steer them away from the worst of the weather. Gregor and the 17 other competitors are setting off with no GPS, no freely available satellite phone, no internet and no weather information other than what they can pick up over the radio.

Golden globe crowdsAn estimated 100,000 people came out to see the fleet off and over 50 Irish people travelled to France to wish Gregor well

McGuckin is now sailing alone, out into the Bay of Biscay, he will then turn south, sail down the Atlantic, around the Cape of Good Hope, lap the Southern Ocean before rounding the infamous Cape Horn, turning left, sailing back up the Atlantic and into Les Sables d’Olonne. The completion of this epic voyage will put Gregor and his yacht, Hanley Energy Endurance, in the history books as the first Irish person to sail alone non-stop around the planet.

Speaking before he left the dock, McGuckin said: “If the race is as hard as the road to the starting line I’m in for a rough ride!"

An estimated 100,000 people came out to see the fleet off and over 50 Irish people travelled to France to wish Gregor well. McGuckin’s father, Randal McGuckin, added:

“Of course, I’ll worry about Gregor but I have every confidence in him and the boat. The team that got him here, along with the amazing support will see him through. It’s fantastic to know that primary school children across Ireland will be following the adventure as well. We’re all extremely proud of Gregor.”

When asked what Gregor will miss most, he said:

“If I start thinking about what I’m going to miss it’ll be a long 8 months. I rather focus on the amazing sailing, wildlife, oceans, weather and challenges that lie ahead. So other than missing friends, family, and loved ones, I’ll be doing my best to enjoy every moment of the voyage.”

The fleet includes 18 competitors in total. Ranging from a 73-year-old French sailing legend that has sailed around the world numerous times, to an Australian from Manchester who is a relative newcomer to sailing but has summited Everest three times.

Gregor’s campaign is part of a wider professional sailing team under the ‘Team Ireland’ brand that saw Enda O’Coineen compete in the Vendee Globe. The Golden Globe Race yachts can be tracked online throughout the race at

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In the space of just a week, both President Michael D Higgins and Taoiseach Leo Varadkar have given their support to Dublin sailor Gregor McGuckin ahead of his solo non-stop sailing lap of the planet as part of the Golden Globe Race. Read the full preview of Gregor's race plans here.

President Michael D Higgins wrote to Gregor to wish him well on behalf of the people of Ireland. The letter was delivered to Gregor and read out in the presence of Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, the first person to sail alone non-stop around the world in Falmouth last week.

Gregor McGuckinPresident Michael D Higgins wishes Gregor Bon Voyage

Yesterday, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar joined the President by Tweeting his support for Gregor.

On 1 July, Gregor McGuckin will set sail in the non-stop race against 17 other competitors. The race can be tracked live for the 8 to 9-month duration of the race.

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Dubliner Greg McGuckin, who will set sail around the world on July 1 has finished ninth in his Golden Globe fleet of 27 in the race to the round the world French startline.

The Golden Globe Race village in Les Sables d’Olonne opened with a bang over the weekend as 9,000 visitors welcomed 17 of the GGR skippers into town at the end the SITRaN Challenge Race from Falmouth, UK. 

Read's preview of the race and interview with McGuckin here

The greatest applause was reserved for Sir Robin Knox-Johnston and his famous Suhaili yacht, winner of the first Golden Globe Race back in 1968/69, and first man to sail solo non-stop around the Globe. Hundreds gathered on the dockside all vying to catch his lines or eye, and thousands more cheered from vantage points around the marina. Suhaili was escorted the last 25 miles from Ile-d-Yeu by a fleet of yachts representing the French section of the Cruising Association.

“I expected a warm welcome, but nothing this big” said Sir Robin. Answering questions on the dock, he added: “The Golden Globe Race is a great adventure involving ordinary but very seaworthy boats and ordinary people who will grow to be quite extraordinary by the time they return to Les Sables d’Olonne. Mark my words, those who finish will become legends in their own right.”

17 skippers arrived in Les Sables d'Olonne for the start of the Golden Globe Race on July 1

Asked if he felt a yearning to start with these skippers, the three-time circumnavigator smiled: “Yes – but 50 years ago!”

Did he have any pearls of wisdom to offer this new generation of global skippers? “Yes, my advice to these skippers is to look after your boat – and your boat will look after you.”

Francesco Cappelletti, the 18th GGR skipper, set off from the South of France early this morning in the cab of a truck, towing his Endurance 35 007 across country to Les Sables d’Olonne. The Italian must arrive on Tuesday to attend a compulsory skipper briefing, then complete 3 days of solo trial sailing in order to join the fleet for the Race start on Sunday July 1st.

SITRaN Challenge Race from Falmouth to Les Sables d’Olonne

First to cross the finish line in the 300-mile SITRaN Challenge Race from Falmouth to Les Sables d’Olonne was Mark Slats’ Dutch yacht Ohpen Maverick followed by French veteran circumnavigator Jean-Luc Van Den Heede’ aboard Matmut. These two Rustler 36 yachts vied with each other all the way across the English Channel. Slats said at the finish. “It is good to see that Ohpen Maverick, which was the very first Rustler 36 to be built, is still competitive. We took up the lead half way across the English Channel and arrived in Ushant just in time to catch the last of the favourable tide. That helped us to extend our lead to 8 miles, but Jean-Luc came back at us near to the end to make it a close finish.”

The aim of the SITRaN Challenge charity race was to finish as close as possible to 19:00 on Saturday. Skippers were allowed to use their engines, but had points added for every hour after the prescribed finish time and more for each hour they motored. These calculations catapulted Philippe Péché’s PRB up from 7th finisher to 2nd overall one point ahead of Jean-Luc Van Den Heede to give the Rustler 36 entrants a clean sweep of the podium positions.

1st Mark Slats (NED) Ohpen Maverick – Rustler 36, 12pts
2nd Philippe Péché (FRA) PRB – Rustler 36 19pts
3rd Jean-Luc Van Den Heede (FRA) Matmut – Rustler 36 20pts
4th Mark Sinclair (AUS) Coconut – Lello 34 26pts
5th equal Tapio Lehtinen (FIN) Asteria – Gaia 36 48pts
5th equal Nabil Amra (PAL) Liberty II – Biscay 36 48pts

9th Gregor McGuckin IRL Hanley Energy Endurance Biscay 36

Download full results below

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There is a monumental singularity of achievement in Robin Knox-Johnston’s non-stop solo voyage around the world in the 32ft Suhaili fifty years ago. While there may have been others taking on the Golden Globe Challenge set by The Sunday Times in 1968 – in some cases with tragic results – the simple fact that Suhaili did it, and did it so well, stands out like a magnificent lighthouse above the turbulent seas of all subsequent global sailing experience writes W M Nixon

Some might argue that the Knox-Johnston success is best honoured by being allowed to stand in all its glory, isolated and serene. But modern society’s endless need for fresh excitement and new entertainment makes us incapable of leaving well alone. The thought of the Golden Jubilee of the Golden Globe is irresistible, and on July 1st, 18 yachts of a certain size and vintage, all sailed solo by a dozen different nationalities, will set out from Les Sables-d’Olonne on France’s Biscay coast to race and replicate Suhaili’s 30,000 miles voyage.

rkj suhaili2One of world sailing’s most enduring images – Robin Knox-Johnston on his battered but unbowed Suhaili hears for the first time in the final approaches to Falmouth that he has won the Golden Globe

It is Challenge Plus, as the participants are not only limited to boats no more than 36ft long from a past era, of closed hull profile with the rudder attached to the trailing edge of the keel, but they must largely use the technology of that period. At its most basic, this means non-electronic navigation by sextant and paper charts. If they have to use any more modern communication equipment other than within strict limits, they are automatically disqualified.

Originally the idea of Australian adventure promoter Don McIntyre, the concept has taken hold internationally thanks in part to the actively promotional port of Les Sables-d’Olonne in France, which continues its reputation of developing ideas for great ocean projects by using the idea for yet another major attention-getting race for which there has been worldwide interest, attracting an extraordinary diversity of entries.

Among them will be Ireland’s Gregor McGuckin in his vintage Biscay 36 Hanley Energy Endurance, first reported by back in December 2015. While he is an experienced sailor with Transatlantic voyages in his CV, at a gathering this week at the National YC in Dun Laoghaire to see his boat in her final stages of race preparation while finding out more about the man himself, he admitted that he has never spent more than two weeks entirely alone, and has never before undertaken a solo ocean voyage.

As it happens, when Conor O’Brien of Foynes departed from Dublin Bay in June 1923 to undertake his pioneering circumnavigation south of Good Hope and Cape Horn with the fully-crewed Saoirse - and with stops at various ports in mind - neither he nor his little 42ft ship had ever undertaken an ocean sailing voyage before. Yet in the fullness of time, they did it, and inspired others to follow.

But although much has been experienced along the same route since, the fact remains that the Great Southern Ocean is an immense and merciless force of nature which takes no prisoners. In a sun-soaked Dun Laoghaire this week, with the only wind a welcome, gentle and cooling nor’east sea breeze, it was well-nigh impossible to imagine those grey and trackless wastes, where the Southern Hemisphere’s highest-ever recorded sea wave was measured last month by a weather buoy south of New Zealand, clocking in at 19.4m, which 64ft in old money.

biscay 36 profile3Biscay 36 hull profile. The rules of the Golden Globe Golden Jubilee Challenge stipulate that the boat is between 32 and 36ft long, and designed pre-1988 with the rudder attached to the trailing edge of the keel.
That’s “Standard Wave” measurement. Rogue waves can go much higher, and steeper ones have been recorded where ocean and land interact more directly, with our own North Atlantic serving up some world champions. But the essence of the Southern Ocean is its relentless procession of rolling giants, whose every breaking crest can be boat-breakers for the unprepared.

Yet the very fact that so many boats – relatively speaking – have now circumnavigated the world by the southern route makes this new take on the challenge irresistible, and many of those involved - including Gregor McGuckin – have been working on their campaigns since 2016 and earlier. But while the Irish sailor went at it from a standing start with little in the way of resources, and had to work an exceptionally busy Caribbean charter season and a programme of lucrative deliveries in order to build up the beginnings of a war chest, more seasoned challengers started from a position of strength.

Few were better placed than the most senior entrant, 72-year-old French long-distance racing legend Jean-Luc Van Den Heede, well-resourced to begin with, and always with new supporters available. His research quickly told him that the boat which provided optimum performance for the challenge while fitting the entry constraints of 32-36ft long, and designed pre-1988, was the British-built 1980 Holman & Pye-designed Rustler 36, of which just over a hundred were built in southwest England.

rustler 36 hull4The sloop-rigged Rustler 36 – a design of 1980 – is the most-favoured boat type for the Golden Globe Golden Jubilee
By 2016, Van Den Heede was in a training and tuning programme off Brittany and in the Bay of Biscay with his Rustler 36 Matmut, named for the French insurance company who are his main sponsors. His choice of boat has since been flattered by being followed by five other entries, such that the current fleet breakdown from for the July 1st start is six Rustler 36s, three Biscay 36s, two Tradewind 35s, two Endurance 35s, and one each Benello Gaia 36, Lelloe 34, Nicholson 32, QE32, and a Suhaili replica.

In terms of line honours, the Rustler 36s have to be the favourites, for although their keel/rudder/propeller aperture configuration may make them – like the Biscay 36 – something of a challenge to manoeuvre under power in a hyper-confined marina space, that is not a problem in the open ocean where their potent sloop rig and slippy hull must give them an edge over the ketch-rigged Biscay 36.

Yet such was the nostalgia for Suhaili’s achievement of 1968-69 that the original reaction to the Golden Globe Golden Jubilee challenge was the expectation that robust ketches would be the backbone of the fleet. And in any case, even a much-used Rustler 36 - seen as a “modern classic” – was beyond Gregor McGuckin’s budget, whereas he was able to find an affordable Biscay 36 – Mary Luck – in Portrush in Northern Ireland, and the show was on the road.

mcguckin boat transformation5The standard Biscay 36 Mary Luck in the throes of transformation in Malahide, making her into the Golden Globe challenger Hanley Energy Endurance.
McGuckin’s own progression into high end sailing is unusual, for although he is from Dundrum in south Dublin, it was while at the College of Further Education in Coolock in the north of the city that he was introduced to sailing on the Broadmeadow Water in Malahide, and his fascination with the challenge of outdoor life was reinforced by six years of living it in Mayo before he went more seriously into fulltime sailing with the emphasis on the Caribbean, where he rose to become the skipper of a 62 footer.

Thus there’s a satisfying circularity in the fact that his newly-acquired Biscay 36 was brought back to Malahide for the very complete refurbishment and programme of modifications which are essential to have her race ready for he Golden Globe Challenge. And though she is now a boat transformed, it was still a case of work in progress on Thursday of this week as the reassuring presence of Neil O’Hagan of Team Ireland – the Enda O Coineen organisation – hosted a Gregor McGuckin reception for press and supporters alike at the National YC.

mcguckin boat interior6The change of use from coastal cruiser to ocean challenger, and the endless work list is evident in the saloon. Photo: W M Nixon

glendalough whiskey7While Hanley Energy have been main sponsors since June 1st, support has been welcome wherever it can be found……Photo W M Nixon

In a question and answer session, Gregor was in such good form that I asked him how much sleep he’d had the night before, and the answer with a smile was three hours….The jobs list keeps relentlessly increasing, while the need for increased sponsorship had always been there until lead supporters Hanley Energy came on board on June 1st. Whereas in France the concept of something like the Golden Globe Golden Jubilee – and the association with Les Sables d’Olonne – will lead to almost instant recognition from those who need to know, in Ireland you sometimes have to start completely from scratch.

That said, the work programme in Malahide attracted an increasing team of dedicated supporters and voluntary specialists – some very highly skilled indeed - with the Cruising Association of Ireland, in particular, being more than helpful. And though Hanley Energy may have been in support for a relatively short time, on the pontoon at the National YC their MD Dennis Nordon left us in no doubt of the fullness of that backing, and in all it was clear that when Gregor gets to Les Sables, there’ll be plenty of supporters on site to help him make final preparations for the start.

mcguckin sextant8Gregor McGuckin demonstrates his skills with the sextant – all ocean navigation is to be by sextant and paper charts. Photo: W M Nixon
This Saturday morning, Hanley Energy Endurance is at sea, sailing south to Falmouth to join next week’s Golden Jubilee celebrations around Robin Knox-Johnston and Suhaili, for, despite the central role now played by Les Sables-d’Olonne, it was in Falmouth that Suhaili started and finished her great voyage half a century ago.

So in a decidedly crowded programme, Thursday’s gathering provided a brief opportunity for stock-taking on the changes that have taken place with the boat. This I found of special interest because way back in the previous Millennium – in 1976 to be precise – I did a sail test on one of the first production Biscay 36s for Yachting World magazine, with which I worked for a quarter of a century as a sort of freelance Columnist at Large.

vizcaya 1976 falmouth9The 1975-built Biscay 36 Vizcaya at Falmouth in 1976. She is entered in the Golden Globe Golden Jubilee Challenge 2018 by Antoine Cousot of France. Photo: W M Nixon

biscay36 1976 testsail10Test-sailing a Biscay 36 off Falmouth, April 1976. Extra weight was later added to the ballast keel. Photo: W M Nixon
biscay36 reaching11Biscay 36 on a fast reach in Falmouth Bay, April 1976. Photo: W M Nixon

Most appropriately, in yet another instance of the circularity of this story, that sail test took place in Falmouth Bay. The Alan Hill-designed boats were being built by Falmouth Boat Construction Company using fibreglass mouldings by Robert Ives, and were aimed at a market seen as “people who would really like a completely wooden boat if they could only afford the maintenance”.

The test took place in a brisk but sunny April easterly with Brian Reynolds and his team from the builders. This guaranteed a congenial day’s sailing in a handsome and generally very attractive boat whose only flaw was a certain tenderness when hard on the wind, but Gregor was telling me that later models saw a significant increase in the amount of moulded-in ballast keel, which has made her stiffer.

As to the boat generally, she’d a very workable and seamanlike layout on deck and comfortable below. While a ketch rig is not everyone’s preference – particularly in a boat only 36ft long – she seemed all of a piece, the sails were easily handled, and in all she struck me as a handy vessel which was easy on the eye and a pleasure to be aboard.

biscay36 1976 rig12The mainmast rig in 1976 was the essence of simplicity……Photo W M Nixon
biscay36 2018 rig13…..but in 2018, the mainmast has two sets of spreaders and other extras. Photo: W M Nixon

But while she was well able for offshore and ocean cruises – several have crossed the Atlantic – the Southern Ocean is something else altogether, and the work programme in Malahide has seen everything from extra hull reinforcement to the upgrading of all chainplates and their bases, the re-vamp of the masts, spars and rigging, the installation of many safety features such as a massive waterproof door where formerly there would only have been sliding planks in the companionway, and the addition of a notably strong “rigid sprayhood” over the companionway.

storm door14The new storm door in the companionway speaks volumes of the challenges which will be faced, as does the new rigid sprayhood. Photo: W M Nixon

This new structure is high-vis orange, so with the new dark green hull and the remaining white deck and superstructure, we have a boat which is sailing in the colours of Ireland’s national flag. Such a thought would have been a long way from anyone’s minds in Falmouth Harbour in 1976, where the 1975-built Biscay 36 sister-ship Vizcaya lay to moorings nearby. And equally, it would have been beyond imagination in 1976 to visualise that in 2018, Vizcaya would be an entry in the Golden Globe Golden Jubilee Challenge, raced by 47-year-old Antoine Cousot of France.

mcguckin reinforcement15The hull has been internally reinforced forward. Photo: W M Nixon

gregor mcguckin16Living on enthusiasm and very little sleep – Gregor McGuckin aboard Hanley Energy Endurance in Dun Laoghaire on Thursday. Photo: W M Nixon
Cousot’s age is not far off the average for the skippers, which makes Gregor McGuckin at 31 one of the youngest involved. And he’s facing into a challenge in which, if all goes well, he’ll be on his own for around 270 days. But as educational linkups have been arranged so that Hanley Energy Endurance’s progress can be followed by primary schools back home in Ireland, he’ll know that others are thinking of him.

Nevertheless, the challenge of a long time alone and total self-reliance is ultimately what it’s all about. But as Gregor remarked on Thursday, managing to get to a position where they really do feel alone is seen by many skippers as the first major hurdle that has to be crossed. Getting away from Les Sables-d’Olonne and out into shipping-free clear water beyond Cape Finisterre in northwest Spain is much more of a challenge for relatively slow boats like the Golden Globe contenders than it is for the flying machines in the Vendee Globe.

Whatever way it goes, the thoughts of many in Ireland will be with him. And if it goes well, he will definitely be the first Irishman to sail solo around the world non-stop.

hanley energy endurance17A Biscay 36 transformed. While Handley Energy Endurance is race number 22, dropouts mean that 18 boats are now expected to start on July 1st. Photo: W M Nixon

Nixon GregorIt’s not every day you get your photo taken by one of the nation’s leading poets – Gregor McGuckin and Winkie Nixon as recorded by Theo Dorgan at Thursday’s Golden Globe Jubilee gathering. Photo: Theo Dorgan

Published in W M Nixon

Irish solo sailor Gregor McGuckin has been campaigning to compete in the incredible non-stop, around the world, solo sailing race, the Golden Globe Race, for almost two years. Today, just one month out from the start of the race, the Team has announced the support of the Irish-owned, global company, Hanley Energy who have joined the project as the headline sponsor. This will now guarantee McGuckin will be on the starting line in Les Sables d’Olonne on 1 July 2018. The boat will be renamed at a ceremony next week to become ‘Hanley Energy Endurance'.

McGuckin will be the only Irish entrant in what will be a gruelling nine-month lap of the planet. He will face the extreme heat of the tropics and worst sea conditions imaginable as he sails down to beyond 56 degrees south to round the infamous Cape Horn. If successful McGuckin will be the first Irish person to complete the ‘Everest of the Seas’, that is sailing alone, non-stop around the world.

The Race marks the 50th anniversary since Sir Robin Knox-Johnston was the first person to complete this once unthinkable task. Since then fewer than 200 sailors have managed this feat. Competitors in this year's race are limited in the technology they can use to best match the challenges faced 50 years ago. This means no GPS, no weather routing, and no desalination systems.

Speaking about the announcement Hanley Energy CEO and Co-founder, Clive Gilmore, said: “Hanley Energy wishes the Endurance Team lead by Gregor McGuckin in the forthcoming Golden Globe Race 2018 every well-deserved success. Hanley Energy is truly delighted to sponsor this incredible and inspiring Team. Fortitudine Vincimus — "by Endurance we Conquer," a motto once held strong by Shackleton accurately captures the real sentiment of Team Endurance; a team that will not only endure this Race, but will surpass all expectations and accomplish the impossible.”

McGuckin added: “The addition of Hanley Energy to the project is fantastic. We share many of the same values in terms of work ethic, safety, drive, and determination. Also, energy creation, innovation, and usage will be critical to my successful voyage. We’re thrilled to be making this announcement and it also helps all our other supporters and partners who have backed us over the past two years.

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No sooner than Enda O'Coineen makes an Irish debut in the Vendee Globe race than another Irish short–handed sailor Gregor McGuckin (30) declares for 2018's Golden Globe Race. As previously reported by, McGuckin declared his interest in the non-stop round the world race, a distance of approximately 30,000 miles, a year ago.

McGuckin (30) swapped his hiking and climbing boots for sailing gear at the age of 18 and never looked back. For many years he combined both skills teaching at outdoor adventure centres at home and abroad before gaining his Ocean Yachtmaster ticket. Since then he has made several Atlantic and Indian Ocean crossings. Now with more than 35,000 sea miles under his belt, McGuckin is currently skippering a 62ft–yacht in the Caribbean.

McGuckin was in the Salon Nautique de Paris this week for the announcement of the race that now has 30 skippers confirmed. Nine French skippers head the 30-strong entry for the 2018 Golden Globe Race starting from England in June 2018. The 30,000 mile solo, non-stop round the world race is being staged to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the original Sunday Times Golden Globe Race back in 1968/9 which led to Sir Robin Knox-Johnston becoming the first man to sail solo non-stop around the world.

Professional sailors and adventurers dominate the entry list but competitors also include a farmer, furniture maker, foreign exchange trader, engineer and two teachers who represent 12 Countries: Australia (4), Brazil (1), Estonia (1), France (9), Ireland (1), Italy (2), Norway (1), Palestine (1), Russia (1), Switzerland (1), UK (5), and the USA (3). Their average age is 48. The youngest are 27 (one British woman, an American and a Swiss entrant). The oldest is 71 year-old Jean-Luc van den Heede. All have considerable short and single-handed sailing experience.

The French entrants are:
Jean-Luc van den Heede (71), five-time circumnavigator who holds the record for the fastest solo west-about non-stop circumnavigation against the prevailing winds and currents
Eric Loizeau (66) A veteran of two Whitbread round the world races, and a former French Yachtsman of the Year
Lionel Regnier (55) who has made 23 Atlantic crossings
Antoine Cousot (45) who has sailed the equivalent of three circumnavigations delivering yachts to all corners of the globe
Phillipe Peche (54) a two-time holder of the Jules Verne trophy for the fastest non-stop sailing circumnavigation
Patrick Phelipon (63), who like Loizeau, is one of legendary French yachtsman Eric Tabarly’s sailing disciples.
Loïc Lepage (60) who has more than 20,000 miles of solo sailing under his belt including three trans-Biscay and four transatlantic crossings
Arsène Ledertheil (58) currently No 2 on the Wait list
Francois Gouin (56) currently No 3

Published in Offshore
Page 4 of 5

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