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Irish sailor vows to complete round-the-world challenge

An Irish sailor forced out of a solo round-the-world race has vowed to complete the epic challenge.

Enda O'Coineen was towed to safety from the Southern Ocean, hundreds of miles from New Zealand, after the mast on his 60ft racing yacht snapped in a squall on New Year's Day.

The 60-year-old entrepreneur from Galway spent the last 10 days mulling over his ambition to complete the Vendee Globe race route and is considering a restart at the same spot and a year to the day when disaster struck.

Although he is officially out of the race, it would be the first single-handed circumnavigation by an Irish sailor.

O'Coineen said: "It's a personal goal and I would never live with myself for not at least trying to complete the objective."

His racing yacht Kilcullen Voyager was battered by 35 knot winds on January 1, snapping the mast in two.

Out of helicopter range and 180 miles from the nearest fishing vessel, O'Coineen was forced to cut the huge mast off the deck to stop it putting a hole in the boat.

He was picked up about five days later by the Lady Dorothy fishing trawler from Dunedin on New Zealand's south island and towed to safety.

"Having now got over the initial devastation of losing the mast and having to retire from the race I'm actually getting excited about what lies ahead," O'Coineen said.

"From an early age I've been drawn to adventure and completing this trip will be the ultimate for me.

"They say absence makes the heart grow fonder and following what I've just been through I can confirm they weren't lying. I can't wait to get back to Ireland in the coming weeks to see friends and family and my first granddaughter."

O'Coineen revealed his plan as he set off from Otago, near Dunedin, after a temporary mast was fitted to allow him to sail 800 miles to Auckland. The yacht will be docked there while a new, bigger racing mast and rig is made to order and fitted.

He is now planning to use his restart to continue to encourage school children to take an interest in sailing and follow his journey and to promote the Atlantic Youth Trust Charity, which aims to build a tall ship for Ireland.

O'Coineen set off from Les Sables-d'Olonne in France on November 6 as one of the oldest sailors helming one of the 29 boats in the Vendee Globe.

In 62 days he completed 13,151 nautical miles, including one 24-hour stretch when he sailed 395 nautical miles.

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