Monday 23 April 2018

O Coineen quits race after yacht loses mast

Enda O Coineen's world sailing challenge lasted 57 days
Enda O Coineen's world sailing challenge lasted 57 days
Ger Keville

Ger Keville

A 'devastated' Irish sailor has had to quit the Vendée round-the-world challenge after his yacht lost its mast.

Enda O Coineen had battled through intense conditions over the course of 57 days - but the self-steering yacht, named the Kilcullen Voyager, had malfunctioned and the mast was lost in the process of trying to fix the issue.

Mr O Coineen's race eventually ended yesterday, some distance off the Dunedin coast of New Zealand. He had no option but to pull out of the race for safety reasons.

The Vendée Globe round-the-world race is described as the Everest of sailing with participants - who are allowed no outside help - setting off from Les Sables d'Olonne in France, travelling a 29,000 nautical-mile route and passing through the three great capes - Good Hope, Leeuwin and the Horn.

Mr O Coineen had sailed through three storms in the Indian Ocean before his 120-foot mast came crashing down.

He is currently sailing blind and hopes a "jury rig" which he plans to construct will be enough to steer him to safety.

"You take risks. History is clear - less than 50pc complete the course," he told the Irish Independent. "I have spent 57 days at sea, halfway around the world. I'm desolate. I have taken the risk and have to accept responsibility.

"It will take three or four days to get to New Zealand. I am not in distress and don't want to call the rescue services. I can't sail and the wind is blowing me so I am trying to do up a jury rig to get sorted."

Mr O Coineen's immediate concern is to get to dry land, but he said he has a number of options going forward.

"I can get a new mast in New Zealand and complete the journey; I can ship the boat home, or leave it in New Zealand. At the moment I am just looking at survival and getting to shore," he said.

Earlier on the day, Mr O Coineen (60) had made a brief video discussing how his New Year's resolution was to take fewer risks.

Irish Independent

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