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Heartbroken sailor Pat Lawless forced to retire from Golden Globe Yacht Race Heartbroken sailor Pat Lawless forced to retire from Golden Globe Yacht Race


Heartbroken sailor Pat Lawless forced to retire from Golden Globe Yacht Race



Pat Lawless pictured above, on his boat, The Green Rebel, which was named after his sponsorship with The Green Rebel company that completes offshore survey service, supports offshore wind energy projects and helps Ireland achieve its climate objectives.

The self-steering system on Pat’s boat failed and made it extremely difficult to navigate tides

By I Love Limerick correspondent Ellie McCarthy

Sailor Pat Lawless has been around boats since he was a child and has already sailed over 10,000 miles solo.

Heartbreak has struck for Limerick sailor Pat Lawless as he is forced to retire from Golden Globe Yacht Race due to a steering malfunction.

Over two months into the race and just before reaching Cape Town, the self-steering system on his boat failed and made it extremely difficult for Pat to navigate the tides. This resulted in him having to use sheet and tiller steering, until he reached his destination where he then pulled out of the race on Thursday, November 10.

Pat Lawless had been struggling with his failing aries wind vane for days and it had to undergo immediate repair in Cape Town. The steering system, which is regulated by a wind vane, is a crucial part of the boat’s operation as it allows the sailor to leave the tiller to tend to other duties and take much-needed rest. Rest is essential in a competition like this.

Pat was in fourth place on his solo circumnavigation when part of his self-steering equipment broke in the South Atlantic. Once his boat is ready to go, the Limerick sailor will sail back to his home in Kerry, which will take another two months.

Pat was also raising money for the Parkinson’s Association of Ireland as part of the race.

The former fisherman and carpenter began his 30,000-mile journey on Sunday, September 4, in Les Sables, France.

It cost Pat approximately €200,000 to compete in the Golden Globe Race from the cost of the boat itself to supplies and entry fees.

He was able to make back some of the funds from his sponsorship with Green Rebel, which is what his boat is named after, but most of the funding came out of his own pocket.

It was 66-year-old Pat’s dream to become the first Irish sailor to complete this challenge but unfortunately, due to reasons out of his control, his time in the race has now come to a premature end.

Pat took part in this race to honour his late father, Pat Lawless Snr, who was the first Irish person to solo circumnavigate the world in 1996 at the grand age of 70.

The Golden Globe Yacht Race is not for the faint of heart as competitors are not permitted to use modern technology and can only use items that were available to sailors in 1968. Pat navigated his boat by using the position of the sun using only a sextant and paper charts.

The clocks on board must be mechanical, and there are no modern luxuries such as GPS, satellite phones, iPads, electrical auto steering and water makers allowed. Competitors carry their own food, water, tools, and spare parts for the time they are at sea.

External communication with family friends or support groups is not allowed for the duration of the race. This is the third time the Golden Globe Race has taken place as in previous years many competitors failed to complete the race.

It is estimated that the race will take anywhere from seven months to eleven months to be completed.

Find out more information on the Golden Globe Yacht Race 

Read more stories on Pat Lawless 

Richard is a presenter, producer, songwriter and actor. He was named the Limerick Person of the Year (2011) and won an online award at the Metro Éireann Media and Multicultural Awards (2011) for promoting multi-culturalism online. Richard says that the concept is very much a community driven project that aims to document life in Limerick. So, that in 20 years time people can look back and remember the events that were making the headlines.