Tuesday 22 August 2017

Irish sailor to finish mammoth round-the-world trip, a year after having to abandon ship

Enda O’Coineen with the Dunedin Scottish Fiddle Club at a farewell before sailing from Otago to Auckland. Photo: Otago Daily Times
Enda O’Coineen with the Dunedin Scottish Fiddle Club at a farewell before sailing from Otago to Auckland. Photo: Otago Daily Times

Rebecca Lumley

An Irish sailor is heading back to sea to complete a round-the-world solo voyage, having been forced to give up during his first attempt.

Enda O'Coineen (61) was competing in the Vendée Globe sailing contest earlier in the year when the sail of his ship snapped 200 miles off the coast of New Zealand. He was rescued by a fishing trawler and had to give up on completing the world-famous competition.

Mr O’Coineen was the first Irish sailor to take part in the mammoth race where people from all over the world sail solo, without stopping, over 24,000 nautical miles. Starting at Les Sables d'Olonne harbour in France, sailors journey through the three Great Capes route - Good Hope, Leeuwin and Cape Horn.

The voyage lasts approximately three months, but Mr O’Coineen, sailing for Kilcullen Team Ireland, ran into difficulty on New Year’s day, two months after the race began.

Just a few days before, a competing French sailor damaged his boat in nearby waters and was also forced to duck out of the race. Thomas Ruyant sailed into an unidentified object and left his boat, the IMOCA 60, in the New Zealand port of Dunedin.

The two men have now teamed up and Mr O’Coineen intends to sail Mr Ruyant’s ship back to Les Sables d’Olonne, completing his "life-long dream".

“i want to finish what I started and never give up. This is my way to contribute something to society and be seen as an example for young people.”

He is scheduled to set sail from New Zealand onboard the 60-foot monohull in January 2018 and is expected to arrive back in France by mid-March.

Mr Ruyant said the joint sailing effort of two Vendée Globe teams was “unprecedented” and said he was proud to be able to pass his ship to another competitor.

“I hope by then to have set up my own project for the 2020 Vendée Globe after attracting new partners and I’ll be following Enda during his return voyage and will be there to welcome him home in Les Sables d’Olonne.”

The French voyage was undertaken in conjunction with Le Projet Imagine, an NGO, while Mr O’Coineen’s voyage aimed to build a legacy for the Atlantic Youth Trust, which he founded. Both place an emphasis on making sailing an accessible activity for young people, as well as providing maritime education.

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