Irish rowers head to the Atlantic to take on the world’s toughest 3,000-mile race

A crew of Irish Air Corps pilots and their best friends will spend Christmas rowing two boats in the middle of the Atlantic to represent Ireland in the world’s toughest race.

earóid Ó Briain, his brother Diarmuid, Derek McMullen, Tom Nolan, Shane Culleton, twin brothers Eugene and Frank Mohan, Dan Buckley and Jim Bailey represent Ireland in the Talisker Whiskey Atlantic Challenge.

“We trained and prepared for this for two full years,” Gearóid said.

Four members of the team will sail aboard Crean, a boat named after Irish Antarctic explorer Tom Crean.

Meanwhile, the Ó Briain brothers are great-grandsons of Irish revolutionary and first President of Dáil Éireann, Cathal Brugha.

“We named our boat Brugha after the man himself,” Gearóid said.

A total of 43 boats will depart from La Gomera in the Canary Islands on December 12th.

The 4,800km race ends on the other side of the Atlantic in Antigua. The journey is expected to last between 32 and 37 days

Last year’s winners completed the race in 35 days.

Gearóid outlined the background and fitness regime of the Ireland team.

“I’m currently flying 102 Squadron in the Irish Air Corps, the twin brothers on the other boat are helicopter pilots and we have a number of engineers on the crew,” he said.

“We’ve always been up to mischief and taken on various challenges and adventures over the years.

“It seemed like a more attractive challenge than Everest.

“The training was intense. We have a great strength and fitness coach in John Belton, then Niall O’Toole, an Irish Olympic rower.

“We train six days a week, sometimes twice a day.

“We had to harden ourselves against the racing conditions by spending up to four days at sea.

“It’s chaos. Waves break in from all directions. Rowing at night, oars jingling, then you have to cook, eat, clean and sleep,” he said.

Racing conditions will be extremely intense with very little time to rest.

“We rest four to five hours a day, including 12 hours of rowing, broken into two sets of six hours,” Gearóid said.

“Thanks to the help of great sponsors who came on board, we have positioned ourselves competitively.
“I would like to ask people to donate to our select charities of LauraLynn Children’s Hospice and the RNLI and I really want to thank our sponsors.”

Irish Air Cops pilot Eugene Mohan described how Ireland’s entry into the world’s toughest race came about.

“Gearóid had mentioned it and pushed for it. We jumped on board and stayed with it.

“We are so excited to get started. Everything comes to a head.

“The difficult part is the logistics. Getting to the starting line is very, very difficult. Two full years of logistics with a solid education, it’s very tough on the water.

What does he see as the greatest challenge?

“Sleep deprivation and maintaining bodily function will be tremendous. Trying to recover and then keeping injuries at bay,” he said.

“It’s short naps with extreme physical exertion, so the mental side is probably number one.

“Also dealing with isolation. We will all miss friends and family.”

Donations can be made here: Irish rowers head to the Atlantic to take on the world’s toughest 3,000-mile race

Fry Electronics Team

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