After 13,000 nautical miles, solo Irish sailor completes 17-month global race
A Galway businessman was given a hero's welcome at a French port after finally completing his solo global yacht 'race' - more than 17 months after it had begun.
Enda O'Coineen (61) sailed into the port of Les Sables d'Olonne dressed in a pirate-style costume, adorned with Tricolour-themed garland, after completing the one-man round-the-world journey aboard his yacht, Kilcullen Voyager.
He was given a large bottle of Mumm Champagne by delighted locals and supporters after unofficially crossing the finishing line of the Vendee Globe yacht race shortly before 4pm local time yesterday.
Mr O'Coineen started the race on November 6, 2016, when he set sail from France. But his luck turned sour on New Year's Day last year when he broke his mast 290km south of New Zealand and was forced to take shelter, thereby abandoning the race.
Nevertheless, he decided to complete the voyage as part of a new team called Le Souffle du Nord Kilcullen Team Ireland.
After the repairs, Mr O'Coineen set sail alone on January 26 from New Zealand and travelled 13,000 nautical miles through the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans, before reaching the French coast.
He said: "After 66 days alone at sea, I am elated.
"It's incredible. I am overwhelmed and surrounded by thousands of people, who gave me an amazing welcome.
"It's an honour to be here representing Le Souffle du Nord Kilcullen Team Ireland. The support, interest and encouragement have been great."