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Historic Row NYC to Galway

A huge congratulations to our fundraiser Damian Browne who became the 1st person to row from New York City all the way across the Atlantic Ocean to Galway Bay.

Fergus was a NRH Spinal Patient due to a workplace accident that left him with a 5% chance of walking again.  A year later, on the anniversary of the accident Fergus walked for 5 days from Athenry to the NRH, with friends and family including Damian and raised vital funds for the NRH Spinal Programme which are being used for an outreach programme.

Over 3.5 years ago, Fergus Farrell a NRH Spinal patient and Damian Browne an ex-professional rugby player decided to take on a world record breaking challenge of a tandem unsupported row across the Atlantic Ocean. They had hoped to make it across the ocean in under 55 days.

Lots of training over the last couple of years went into preparing for this mammoth event.

Then the big day came and on the 14th of June at 3.14am Irish Time Damian and Fergus rowed out of the docks in New York to start their adventure across the Atlantic.

This was an extremely difficult row, with weather and sea conditions worse than anticipated.

After 14 days Fergus took ill, and with his vital stats so low, Fergus had to come off the boat for urgent medical attention. Luckily a nearby tanker was able to come to their aid and they safely managed to lift Fergus up to the tanker which was on its way to New York. Damian made the decision to continue the row solo.

Rowing solo meant this challenge was going to take longer to return to Galway but also more difficult. As Damian made progress rowing forward, waves would also push him backwards. Bad weather which hadn’t been typically seen historically for this time of year meant there were times when the para-anchor had to be put on and Damian could take to safety inside the cabin on Cushlamachree his trusty boat.

Although this was a real test of endurance both physically and mentally, Damian also got to witness some amazing sights such as a school of about 400 dolphins whizzing by him.

Nearly 100 days later, Damian could finally see Ireland and as he made his way up the coast of Ireland from Kerry to Galway, Heavyman Films and photographer Emilija Jefremova took to the seas to try and find Damian after seeing him last in New York as part of the feature length documentary called Waves of Change that has been documenting Damian and Fergus’ challenge. They were even able to throw Damian over some sandwiches especially prepared by his Mammy.

On Tuesday 4th of October just after midnight, Damian was making his way into Galway, when huge waves caused him to capsize. Damian’s oar broke as he turned the boat back around, and the next wave washed him up on to the rocks of Furbo Beach before 1am in the early hours of the morning. Damian called for help and the Gardaí and the Coast Guard arrived to assist Damian safely to shore.

Damian rowed in total over 3,450 nautical miles, spent over 2,686 hours at asea and became the first person in history to row from New York to Galway.

The morning of Tuesday 4th of October, Damian came into Galway Port by speed boat to a hero’s welcome! Hundreds of people came to welcome Damian home, from locals to all parts of Ireland and some even flying in from abroad to see the man who rowed the Atlantic and who they had been following on this Deep Roots podcast. As Damian made his way to the podium to speak to crowd, he was even welcomed with his Supermac’s order.

We cannot get over the amount of work and determination both Damian and Fergus have put in training for this challenge the last couple of years. We are so delighted to be one of the four charity partners for this amazing challenge, along with @abilitywest , @madradogrescue and @galwaysimoncommunity

Thank you to Fergus Farrell @the_toughest_trek for your incredible support and we are in awe of your incredible journey, and we are so proud of Fergus and his amazing achievements and his incredible part in team Project Empower and this historic ocean row.

We would also like to say a huge thank you again to Galway Bay Brewery for donating €30,000 in support of the rowing challenge and their chosen charities, we are so grateful for this extremely generous donation.

If you would like to show your support by donating please visit: www.iDonate.ie/ProjectEmpower2022

NRH Foundation