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  • Southside

Goatstown sailor recalls a week of tense drama on the high seas

Tuesday, 9th October, 2018 12:00pm
Goatstown sailor recalls a week of tense drama on the high seas

Irish sailor Gregor McGuckin is pictured with partner Barbara O’ Kelly after arriving into Rockingham, Perth in Western Australia aboard the naval vessel HMAS Balarat.

Goatstown sailor recalls a week of tense drama on the high seas

Irish sailor Gregor McGuckin is pictured with partner Barbara O’ Kelly after arriving into Rockingham, Perth in Western Australia aboard the naval vessel HMAS Balarat.

GOLDEN Globe Race 2018 competitor Gregor McGuckin arrived into Rockingham, Perth Western Australia last week after a week of drama on the high seas.

The 32-year-old Irish sailor originally embarked on a solo, non-stop sailing race around the world when his yacht, the Hanley Energy Endurance, was demasted in an extreme storm.

The Goatstown man arrived on board the Australian naval vessel HMAS Ballara after his attempt to be the first Irish man ever to complete the 30,000-mile race around the globe, without assistance and with no modern technology, ended in drama.

Speaking to media in Perth, McGuckin said: “It's fantastic to be here in Perth. While Australia was never my intended final port, I couldn't be happier and more grateful right now. My journey started some 92 days ago, when I departed France on the Hanley Energy Endurance in an attempt to sail alone non-stop around the world. In a horrendous storm, my yacht was capsized and demasted as was my competitor Abhilash Tomy's yacht.

“I was uninjured and was planning to sail to safety, however, Abhilash was not so lucky. He suffered a back injury and was in immediate danger so I built a jury rig and set a course for his location. Thankfully, we were both picked up and Abhilash is now recovering.

“The real heroes today are the professionals that coordinate and execute such missions,” he added. “All services were tested to their limits and excelled. The international cooperation between Australia, France, and India has proven that no matter how remote, there is always cover and the investment in naval assets and training paid off. I understand the Ballarat crew had returned early from leave and I pass on my deep gratitude to them and their families for their dedication to duty.”

McGuckin added: “Of course, the Golden Globe Race continues and my thoughts are very much with my fellow competitors. My incident merely underpins the challenges they face and I am sure we would all wish the remaining boats a safe passage until the race completes next year.

“I would also like to thank Don McIntyre and his team for their support. Right now I want to spend time with my family and take some time.

“I will reflect on my experience and address all matters and questions at great length in due course. Thanks again to all involved. I will forever be indebted for your efforts.”

Gregor McGuckin set sail on July 1, from Les Sables d’Olonne, in France. He was in fourth position in the race when an extreme storm struck the Indian Ocean on September 21.

His yacht was rolled 360 degrees, taking the mast vertically into the water and causing irreversible damage.

After stabilising, McGuckin heard a distress call from a fellow race competitor Indian sailor, Abhilash Tomy. McGuckin built a jury rig and hand steered his yacht for four days to assist in the rescue of his fellow competitor before Abhilash iwas reached by the French vessel FPV Osiris. The vessel then sailed to evacuate Gregor from his yacht.

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