Irish skipper Enda O'Coineen has vowed to 'complete' the Vendée Globe by sailing his yacht Team Ireland - Kilcullen Voyager back to Les Sables d'Olonne.

Although officially out of the race, O’Coineen says he aims to complete the circumnavigation that cruelly ended when his boat dismasted south of New Zealand on New Year’s Day.

Just over two weeks later and the 61-year-old Dubliner has set sail from Dunedin in the south of New Zealand’s South Island bound for Auckland with a temporary mast and sails donated by local sailor Blair McNabb.

Photo sent from the boat Kilcullen Voyager Team Ireland on 2 December 2016. Credit: Enda O'Coineen

Photo sent from the boat Kilcullen Voyager Team Ireland on 2 December 2016. Credit: Enda O’Coineen

Once in Auckland, some 800 miles away, O’Coineen will source a new mast and rig before restarting the voyage which will take him back into the Southern Ocean, around Cape Horn and through the Atlantic to the Vendée Globe’s home port.

If he completes the voyage he will become the first Irishman to circumnavigate the globe solo.

‘It’s a personal goal and I would never live with myself for not at least trying to complete the objective,’ he said. ‘It will also promote the Atlantic Youth Trust Charity, connecting youth with the ocean and adventure. Completing the voyage also gives us another chance to refine the schools programme and roll it out once again to children across the country.’

O’Coineen will return home to Ireland before returning to New Zealand later in the year or in early 2018 to resume his circumnavigation. He said he did not plan on returning to the Vendée Globe in four years but hoped his boat would be on the start line.

‘I have made many friends in Les Sables and I look forward to getting back there and then home to Ireland,’ he added. ‘On completing the circumnavigation I will have no desire to go again but I hope that Team Ireland will move forward to do the Barcelona two-handed Around the World Race and perhaps the Vendee in 2020.’

Meanwhile, the sprint to the finishing line is hotting up with British contender Alex Thomson’s IMOCA 60 yacht Hugo Boss now just 71.78NM behind Vendée Globe leader Armel Le Cléac’h’s Banque Populaire VIII.

The winning boat is expected to reach Les Sables this Thursday, 19 January.

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