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Pat Lawless has departed Ireland on his way to the start of the Golden Globe race

Killaloe Sailing Club’s Pat seeks to navigate into history books

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A KILLALOE Sailing Club member has set sail in his bid to become the first Irish person to complete an around-the-world race known as the “Voyage for Madmen”.

Killaloe Sailing Club has wished one of its most well known members, Pat Lawless, the best of luck as he left Crosshaven in Cork on Tuesday to make his way to the starting point for the Golden Globe Race.

The 66-year-old, who was born in Limerick, but lives in Kerry, is one of the solo sailors taking on this treacherous challenge.

He told Virgin Media in Cork on Tuesday, that undertaking the challenge “was a dream that got hold of him when he was a young fellow”.

“The human mind is funny, we all get hooked on something, different kinds of sport, reading, history, and I got stuck in sailing.”

Regarding the challenge itself, Pat said, “It’s solitary confinement, self-imposed and you’d be pushing the boat 24 hours a day. It’s a race, so as hard as you can, you will keep the boat moving.

“I’ll sleep for 20 minutes, check if everything is ok and going and then sleep again for 20 more minutes. I’ll be eating, cooking, navigating, sailing the boat.”

Mr Lawless grew up around boats learning to sail on the River Shannon, building his first boat at the age of just 12, and has already sailed over 10,000 miles solo.

He is also no stranger to dinghy sailing, including Lasers and 420s. In addition to RSs and several other categories, Killaloe Sailing Club currently has a very large fleet of lasers, which participate in club racing events each week during the sailing season.

Mr Lawless has selected the Saltram Saga 36, and believe she is the best boat for him to be able to win the race.

Alan Papa designed her as a development, from the Colin Archer “Redningskoite” sailing lifeboat hull. For many years they have been regarded as being amongst the most sea worthy around, but are substantially faster than the original.

“She will come into her own in the Southern Ocean, able to hold on to working sail in strong winds, without heeling more than 20°, while in soft weather, she can sail so well because of her wet area,” he explained.

Pat said, “Probably the mast will go under water a few times in storms, there is a chance she will turn upside down, but she’ll come back up.”

Killaloe Sailing Club is thrilled to have an association with its newest club member on his world-wide voyage.

The club undertook a successful fundraiser for Pat last year, and as a supporting organisation, the club logo will be engraved onto the bulkhead of his boat. Green Rebel will be the main sponsor

Sailing in a 36ft Saltram Saga, no Irish person has managed to do achieve this feat before now. The Golden Globe Race, which starts in Les Sables d’Olonne, France, is the longest, loneliest sporting event in the world.

It involves nine months at sea alone in a small boat around the world non-stop and unassisted by technology other than a compass, sextant, the stars and the sun.

It will entail stepping back to the Golden Age of solo sailing, with no modern technology, sailing the race in the spirit of Brendan the Navigator and Edward Conor Marshall O’Brien, the first skipper to take a small boat around the world via the three great southern capes.

Mr Lawless is among a field of 28 international competitors attempting the treacherous challenge of sailing solo around the world without stopping in the Golden Globe Yacht Race.

The 30,000 nautical mile voyage is regarded as the toughest and most dangerous race in sailing.

Keeping with the spirit of the very first Golden Globe Yacht Race competitors are restricted to using technology that was available in 1968 and will not be permitted to communicate with family or friends during the nine-month voyage.

The carpenter, who lives in Baile an Fheirtéaraigh in West Kerry has officially registered his 36 foot (10 metre) Saltram Saga in the race, which is set to depart Les Sables-d’Olonne in France.

“The Golden Globe Race is the ultimate test in sailing. It’s as pure as you’ll get,” Mr Lawless said.

“No modern equipment, no GPS or satellite-based navigation is allowed so you are relying on the old techniques such as using compass and sextant, navigating with the stars and sun.

“This is sailing by the seat of your trousers. It’s one man against the ocean,” he explained.

Competitors face a gruelling nine-month voyage, taking them past the five great capes and will not be permitted to land during the race.

They must carry enough food and water to sustain them for the duration of the voyage.

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