Galway yachtsman Enda O Coineen is set to “unofficially” complete the 2016/17 edition of the Vendee Globe solo round the world yacht race from New Zealand - a year after he was forced to abandon the event in the Southern Ocean.
O Coineen, who set sail along with 28 other skippers in the eighth edition of the solo race on November 2016, was one of 11 forced to retire when his boat lost its mast south of New Zealand. Now a year later, although the race officially concluded last May, O’Coineen wants to finish what he started.
To do so he has joined forces with another rival sailor, Frenchman Thomas Ruyant, whose boat also suffered damage off the New Zealand coast. With the mast from Ruyant’s boat, O Coineen plans to sail the colours of Le Souffle du Nord and Kilcullen Team Ireland to the finish line in France.
O Coineen, well known in Irish sailing, says he just wants to finish what he set out to do.
“I feel lucky to be in a situation that I can do it,” he says. “I am honoured to take over from Thomas Ruyant aboard Le Souffle du Nord pour Le Projet Imagine by joining with Kilcullen Team Ireland. I’m proud too to be able to continue to convey the message of Kilcullen Team Ireland around the world, in particular to promote the youth development programme, the Atlantic Youth Trust, an educational programme, which enables youngsters to discover the ocean, adventure and challenges.
“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.”
The 60-year-old Galwayman planned to depart Auckland this week, sail to Dunedin where he rejoins the race a year later, sailing round Cape Horn to France. He will “unofficially” become the first Irish sailor to complete the endurance race, which started in Les Sables-d’Olonne, if he completes this latest leg.