The Marine Institute are delighted to see that heroic Irish sailor Gregor McGuckin returned to Ireland yesterday. Arriving back in Dublin to a rapturous welcome in Dublin Airport from his family, friends and members of the sailing community.
It is Gregor’s first time on Irish soil since embarking on his attempt to be the first Irishman to sail around the world solo non-stop. He was competing in the Golden Globe Race, which is known as the ‘Mount Everest of sailing races’.
Gregor captured the world’s attention when his yacht, the Hanley Energy Endurance, was rolled over twice and dismasted during an enormous storm in the treacherous seas of the South Indian Ocean. His fellow competitor in the race, an Indian naval commander named Abhilash Tomy, who was also capsized and dismasted in the storm, suffered a very serious back injury and was unable to move or steer his yacht.
In a truly remarkable feat of seamanship and heroism which inspired and amazed the sailing world, Gregor ‘jury-rigged’ a small mast and sail on his yacht and battled the storm for a brutal four days and nights to get close to Tomy and attempt a rescue.
A French fisheries patrol vessel, the FPV Osiris managed to get to Tomy before McGuckin did. The vessel then sailed to evacuate Gregor from his yacht to prevent the need for a second rescue mission. McGuckin and Tomy were treated at the medical centre on Ile Amsterdam (Amsterdam Island) in the southern Indian Ocean. The Australian naval vessel HMAS Ballarat collected McGuckin to take him to Perth in Western Australia.
At a press conference in Dublin Airport hosted by Gregor and his headline sponsor Hanley Energy, Gregor gave a flavour of the hardships he endured; ‘’when I heard that Abhilash was in serious trouble I knew immediately that I had to do what I could. With the jury-rig on the Hanley Energy Endurance, I was only able to hand steer, which meant I had to be on deck in order to make any progress towards Abhilash. The weather conditions at this point were still appalling.’’
Gregor was warmly welcomed by his sponsor, Hanley Energy. Speaking at the press conference today, Hanley Energy Managing Director Dennis Nordon said; ‘’we are absolutely thrilled to have Gregor home safely. All of us here are indescribably proud of his bravery in unimaginably tough circumstances, and we are looking forward to continuing to support his endeavours.’’
Gregor has spent the past two weeks recovering in Perth in Australia where he was brought by the Australian Navy following medical treatment on Amsterdam Island in the Indian Ocean.