A new Irish project for the 2020 Vendée Globe

Nicholas O'Leary et Alex Thomson
© Ireland Ocean Racing

Nicholas O’Leary is no newcomer to the world of sailing. He is a member of one of Ireland’s most famous sailing families. His father Anthony represented his country in the Commodores’ Cup, while his brother, Peter represented the Republic of Ireland in the Star class in the Olympics. Nicholas, nicknamed Nin, was three times Irish sailing champion and recently joined Alex Thomson on Hugo Boss in the Rolex Fastnet Race on Hugo Boss to gain some experience of IMOCA sailing. “It’s an important day for Irish sailing and for me personally too,” declared Nicholas O’Leary at the project launch. “The campaign leading up to the next Vendée Globe offers sponsors a very interesting opportunity. After the Rolex Fastnet Race with Alex Thomson, the work is really beginning with the aim of completing the 2020 Vendée Globe.”

The double-handed Barcelona World Race with Alex Thomson
© Ireland Ocean RacingO’Leary intends to continue his preparation for the 2020 Vendée Globe by accompanying Alex Thomson on Hugo Boss next year in the double-handed round the world race, the Barcelona World Race. After that, he would like to sail across the Atlantic in 2019 to qualify for the next Vendée Globe, which starts on 8th November 2020. He is clearly in a hurry and has rejected the idea of going through the traditional school of Figaro racing, preferring to gain as much experience as he can on an IMOCA with Thomson, in order to be ready in 2020. 

Encouraging sailing in Ireland
This project is part of a bigger campaign to develop Irish sailing with skippers competing on other boats and aims to attract other teams to Cork. Those in charge are even talking about the possibility of seeing Hugo Boss based permanently in Ireland next year.

You may remember that in the last edition of the Vendée Globe, Enda O’Coineen became the first Irish skipper to seat sail in the history of the race. Unfortunately, his adventure ended rather too soon off New Zealand, when his monohull Kilcullen Voyager-Team Ireland dismasted on 1st January 2017.

Antoine Mermod, president of the IMOCA class is pleased about this new project. “This is excellent news and fits in perfectly with our goal of making the IMOCA class even more international. Ireland has a long sailing tradition. We hope this project quickly finds the means to fulfil these goals. Nicholas O’Leary has a very professional team around him, who already know the IMOCA circuit very well. That has to be a major advantage and shows how serious this project is. The Vendée Globe is already a truly global event, but we would like to see the non-French projects develop and thrive.”

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