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Stranded Irish sailor mulls continuing

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 5/01/2017 Ed Carty

An Irish sailor stranded in Dunedin after being forced out of a solo round-the-world race is considering restarting the epic voyage after being rescued.

Enda O'Coineen, a 60-year-old entrepreneur from Galway, had been drifting for several days after a squall in the Southern Ocean broke the mast on his 18-metre racing yacht, Kilcullen Voyager, forcing him out of the Vendee Globe challenge.

O'Coineen, who says sailing is his hobby, was on track to be the first Irish sailor to go single-handed around the world.

Since setting off from France on November 6 he completed 13,151 nautical miles.

Disaster struck his boat on New Year's Day in 35 knot winds when the mast snapped and he had to cut it off to stop it putting a hole in the boat. He was out of helicopter range and 290km from the nearest fishing vessel.

Forty knot winds yesterday helped push him closer to a rescue by the Dunedin trawler.

O'Coineen had thought about getting a new mast fitted to the yacht and finishing the circumnavigation even though he would be formally out of the race, he told the British Press Association via satellite phone.

"It's a real possibility to finish what I started but it's a massive undertaking to do the repair.

"But I'm nervous about saying I'm going to do that. Doing that, resourcing it, making it happen, there's a lot of sacrifice for the family and all of that but that's one real alternative I'm contemplating."

It could take several weeks for a mast to be fitted. The other options are to ship the boat home or leave it in New Zealand.

He also said he was feeling down about not completing the race but the interest in his voyage through a schools programme has lifted his spirits with scores of emails of support coming in since he set off.

"I'm still going through a very hard reconciliation with myself," he said.

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