Ger O'Rourke and the crew of Cookson 50 Chieftain are overall winners. Elaine Bunting reports
Irish skipper Ger O’Rourke has claimed overall victory in the Rolex Fastnet Race in his Cookson 50 canting keel yacht Chieftain. The 46-year-old from Limerick who has sailed for 20 years and owns a construction company in Ireland, was a last-minute entry to the race. He was number 46 on the waiting list and his place was confirmed only the day before the start.
Chieftain crossed the line yesterday night at 19:43:44 after 2 days and 7 hours racing.
O’Rourke and his crew, which included friends, local sailors, his 18-year-old daughter Deirdre and the professional talents of Dutch navigator Jochem Visser, sailed hard despite tough conditions and seasickness. I talked to O’Rourke this morning, and a podcast of the interview will be on our site shortly.
This caps a superb couple of seasons for O’Rourke. He won his class in last year’s Sydney-Hobart race and was 4th at Key West earlier this year. He also races a Laser SB3.
With this win he follows a long tradition of Irish success in the Fastnet Race. In the 1980s, the Irish Admiral’s Cup team, with Jo Richards as skipper and Ed Dubois navigating, claimed overall victory but was not awarded the trophy because the yacht, named Irish Independent, was sponsored.
O’Rourke says he is proud, in particular, to be following in the footsteps of the late Denis Doyle, the famous Cork sailor who raced in 20 Fastnet races, his last in 2001 in his yacht Moonduster when he was 81 years old.