independent

Sunday 20 April 2014

Foxall looking to next challenge

Damien Foxall.

Simon Brouder

KERRY sailor Damian Foxall will be looking to add to his already bulging trophy cabinet when he takes part in the 2013 transatlantic Jacques Vabre two man yacht race next November.

Foxall, a native of Caherdaniel and Derrynane and Ireland's leading offshore sailor, has been named this week as co-skipper on the Oman Air Musandam boat which will see him tackle the race, which follows the historic coffee trading route between France and Brazil, with French skipper Sidney Gavignet.

Foxall has been a key member of Gavignet's crew since the start of 2013 and his experience in racing the world's oceans goes back 30 years and covers a remarkable 350,000 nautical miles.

He has won two of his last three round the world races, most recently as watch captain on Groupama in the 2011/12 Volvo Ocean Race which finished in Galway.

Four years ago he won the two-handed Barcelona World Race 2007-08 and in addition to these successes he has also completed 18 transatlantic trips and seven circumnavigations. These epic trips included a part in the setting of a round the world speed record aboard the late American adventurer Steve Fossett's yacht Cheyenne in 2004.

This record, coupled with the CV of his vastly experienced skipper, has seen the Kerryman and his crewmate immediately installed among the favourites to win the prestigious and coveted Transat Jaques Vabre title, one of the few major international sailing titles Damian Foxall has yet to secure.

However, as Foxall and Gavignet will be racing across the Atlantic alone aboard a yacht designed to be crewed by six, the Kerryman is taking nothing for granted.

"These boats are not designed to be sailed by two, so it will be a handful, a big challenge," Foxall said.

"Apart from the autopilot, there is not much about this boat that lends itself to short-handed sailing. It's a lot of boat to handle for two people, but Sidney is used to that and I have done a few two-handed races. "We have a good chance of doing well, but it is a heck of a machine to control. We need to know when to push hard and when to ease off while keeping performance levels high."

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