Naked rower attempt hangs by a thread
Published 07/06/2011 | 15:48
An Irishman's attempt to row naked across the Indian Ocean is hanging by a thread after he cut his head in stormy waters.
Keith Whelan, 30, was forced to temporarily abandon his solo challenge after being thrown across the tiny cabin of his rowing boat when it was hit by a large wave off the west coast of Australia.
He managed to stop the bleeding himself and waited until the morning to contact a UK-based member of his team, using a satellite telephone, who then got in touch with Australian authorities over fears the wound could be infected.
A passing Japanese container ship diverted and picked up the event management consultant around 206 kilometres (128 miles) northwest of Geraldton, where he set off from on May 7.
Mr Whelan, from Athy, Co Kildare, is expected to remain on board the ship until it arrives at the port city of Bunbury tomorrow, where he will receive any necessary medical treatment.
He also telephoned his mother Breda Whelan in Ireland this morning to let her know he was doing fine.
She said: "I'm so gutted for him after all the work he put in. I hope it's not the end for his challenge."
Mr Whelan's spokeswoman said he will likely need up to 15 stitches but it was unclear whether he would be able to immediately take up the challenge again.
"If he has to abandon it will be because of damage to his boat and not to him," she said.
"I don't know what condition the boat is in, but that's what it will all come down to."
Bad weather has already hampered his progress and forced him to spend some time on the Abrohlos Islands, from where he departed on June 4.
Mr Whelan - who calls himself the naked adventurer - wants to become the first Irishman as well as the youngest man to cross the Indian Ocean solo.
He is attempting the 6,000-kilometre (3,728-mile) crossing from Western Australia to Mauritius fully exposed because sea salt encrusted in clothes causes painful chafes.
He was protecting himself from the elements with sun block and by sitting on a sheepskin rug.
Mr Whelan is raising funds for Keep a Child Alive, a charity which supports children and families affected by HIV/Aids in Africa and India, though his website www.thenakedadventurer.com.
Mr Whelan's father Dan said: "I'm gutted for Keith but, if I know my son, he is still 100% determined.
"That said, he should tie himself to the bed the next time."