Belfast Telegraph

Irish sailor sets sights on around the world race

Gregor McGuckin became interested in sailing at college and then started delivering boats for a living.

An adventurer hopes to become the first Irishman to sail alone around the world non-stop in a race where only traditional navigation tools, the sun, moon and stars can guide him.

Gregor McGuckin became interested in sailing at college and then started delivering boats for a living.

While in the Caribbean about two years ago, he set his sights on taking part in the Golden Globe race after seeing it mentioned in a magazine.

Since then, he has dedicated every waking minute to raise the money to buy a vintage Biscay 36, completely refurbish it and pay the 10,000 euro (£8,800) race entry fee.

The 31-year-old attended a send-off party in Dun Laoghaire Harbour, near his home city of Dublin, on Thursday – where his boat was officially re-named Hanley Energy Endurance in a nod to his sponsors.

It is only the second time that the Golden Globe Race is due to run.

More people have been in space than have successfully completed the feat, which is known as the “Everest of the Sea” and he has dubbed a “voyage for mad men”.

Beginning in July, it will mark the 50th anniversary since the record-setting trip of Sir Robin Knox-Johnston in 1968 – the first man to sail single-handedly around the world.

Mr McGuckin said: “It’s a very hard thing to prepare for. I don’t know how I’m going to react for that length of time alone. Social contact will be nil. The most important thing is making sure the boat is in order, then I will sleep easy.

“It’s something I’ve always wanted to do.

“I will miss people the most and I think that will be the hardest thing. But I am just focused on getting to that finish line.”

He travels to Falmouth in the UK on Friday before heading to Les Sables-d’Olonne, in France, for the start of the race on July 1.

He will have limited contact with the outside world through a high frequency radio. Laptops, MP3 players and tablets are banned.

The only navigation equipment he will have are traditional tools – a compass, a sextant, and paper charts.

There is a sealed GPS and phone on board, so the race organisers can monitor him and for emergencies, but if he opens the box, it constitutes instant disqualification.

A hoard of music cassettes will keep him company and he hopes to spend the time reading and writing.

Although much of the trip will be taken up with constant maintenance checks and any necessary repairs to the boat, which was built in 1984.

To ensure his boat does not stray off course through a sudden change in the direction of the wind, he will have to snatch sleep in short bursts.

Packs of freeze dried, tinned and dehydrated food will also be taken on board with him – enough to last him nine months – but he will have to rely on catching rain water.

Old fashioned non-laminate cloth sails must be used, and only 150 litres of fuel can be taken.

The race covers 30,000 miles via Cape Horn and four rendezvous points including the Canary Islands and Tasmania.

He previously told Press Association how he put off telling his girlfriend Barbara for several months, but she embraced the adventure and is helping him prepare a primary schools’ course to allow children to follow his voyage while learning about the oceans.

He said: “I always had a plan that I’d get my own boat and ideally sail around the world, but I’d almost resigned myself to not doing it until this opportunity came along.”

His good luck charms will be a flag featuring the Irish harp and a bottle of specially-distilled Irish whiskey.

Daily News Headlines Newsletter

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox.

Popular

From Belfast Telegraph