When Gregor McGuckin slipped his lines from the pontoon at Dun Laoghaire’s National Yacht Club and sailed quietly through Dalkey Sound, bound for Les Sables D’Olonne on France’s Atlantic coast, his hope was not to see dry land again after July 1 — for about nine months. The young Dubliner faces a challenge of huge proportions, both physical and mental: a solo, non-stop voyage around the planet in the Vendee Golden Globe Race.

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 Gregor has a ‘glass half-full attitude’ not only thanks to Glendalough Distillery who presented him with a small barrel of 7-year-old single malt whiskey that is bolted to the foredeck, but in his approach to what lies ahead. With just fourteen days solo sailing experience in his wake, his mental preparation has been to ensure the boat is completely ready “and that helps my confidence,” he said.

Companies he knew and some he did not, came forward to help Gregor get over the start line and for that he is “truly grateful”. Solo sailing has been a live-long ambition “and is now a reality thanks to our main sponsor, Hanley Energy,” remarked Gregor. “We share many of the same values in terms of work ethic, safety, drive and determination.

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Energy creation, innovation and usage will be critical to my successful voyage,” he remarked. Managing director Dennis Nordon said the company was proud to be associated with Gregor: “This is a huge task; it’s the most courageous project we’ve come across.”

Nineteen sailors face a grueling 30,000 miles alone without outside assistance (except emergency) and minimal equipment (no modern technology GPS, computers, and electronic autopilots) to simulate what was available to Sir Robin Knox-Johnston who completed the world’s first solo non-stop circumnavigation in 1968/’69.

Gregor has also partnered with Ireland’s largest primary school publisher, CJ Fallon and the Marine Institute to create an education resource that will use his journey “to engage, educate and inspire, young people” about our oceans and coastlines.

“The overriding goal is to create an army of ‘ocean literate’ young people. By instilling an understanding of the importance of our oceans, they are best placed to ensure a sustainable and sensible future for Ireland and the world.”

“I think this Golden Globe Race is a wonderful idea. Why dream of it and never do it. This is a challenge that has been created to achieve that dream.” Six Robin Knox-Johnston.

Follow Gregor on https://www.facebook.com/gregormcguckinracing/