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Ambitious ó Riain ready to take on Globe

Everyone has their dreams, but some are more ambitious than others. That is certainly the case with sailor Paul ó Riain.

In just two years time, ó Riain hopes to have won a place on the start line of the Vendee Globe -- the toughest sailing race in the world, made famous by Ellen McArthur when she finished second in the 2000/1 version of the race.

He would be the first Irishman to attempt this most gruelling of races. It is not for the faint-hearted.

While the winners will cover the 26,000-mile distance in under 90 days, most will take a lot longer. About a third won't make it at all.

O Riain first got in a boat at the age of six when his father bought a small dinghy. By the age of 11 he was hooked. "My father then bought a little 32ft yacht and we sailed to France with one of my sisters. I just loved it. I have always loved the adventure of sailing rather than the more technical aspects of the sport and this was a great adventure," says ó Riain.

With that boat sold, the young ó Riain turned to windsurfing and by the age of 16, was good enough to contemplate going pro, setting up a school in Co Galway and later the Surf Dock in Dublin.


When the windsurfing bubble burst, he returned to his first love of sailing, determined to learn the art of sailing solo at sea. He achieved his target of qualifying for the 2007 La Solitaire de Figaro, a four-stage solo race which regularly attracts the best sailors in the world.

By the third leg, he was on top of the challenge and finished 21st. "On that leg to La Coruna, I didn't see anyone for over four days," he said.

"Then on the last day, seven other boats appeared and we raced each other to the finish. Afterwards I thought that's all right; I can do this."

Immediate target for Ryan is the Transat -- a double-handed transatlantic race next April, when he will team up with Philip Johnston. A return to Le Figaro Solitaire is also planned.

Ryan will discuss his career so far and outline his plans for an adventurous future at a special evening in Dublin's Alliance Francaise on Kildare Street on Thursday February 4 (8.0). Entry is free; email info@alliance-francaise.ie to book your place.